Sandy's Kitchen

Lifestyle//

// My Salad Days
were fresh with Bloom,
a youthful curl of upright stem.
A springtime flavour
of minted fresh,
no wilt, no droop, no listless flop.

My Salad Days
were frizz with crunch,
a crisp abandon of childlike charm.
A blush, a bright
of glowing green,
no crease, no pucker, no crumpled leaf.

The idiomatic expression Salad Days was coined in 1606 by William Shakespeare – the phrase first appeared in his play Antony and Cleopatra. Cleopatra disclaims: “My salad days, When I was green in judgement: cold in blood, to say as I said then!”

 “Salad Days” refers to a distant time of youthful naivety and innocence. The word “green in judgement” is a deliberate play on words, it explains the phrase’s meaning: salads are green, and “green” is often used in the English language to denote someone who is enthusiastically inexperienced.

With summer on our doorstop, this is the month for going green (and dusty pink, aubergine and avocado). I’m simply mad for this range of soothing and peaceful colours, with their earthy natural warmth, they simultaneously and immediately exude a sense of calm as well as carefree country days.

Do.

“To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist – the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know how much oil, one must mix with one’s vinegar.”

 – Oscar Wilde 

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I’ve picked a harvest of hue-coloured freshness to create a table that breathes a feeling of casual abundance and a sense of summer – I’ve drawn inspiration directly from my budding herb bushes, already heavy with the aroma of mint, rosemary and basil. I wanted to encapsulate salad days and summer ways into a table of garden-freshness and fragrance.

While summer creeps towards us in its infancy, its shower of sunshine and scatter rains have given birth to a freshness, a greenness and seasonal ripeness of new life. At Sandy’s Kitchen, I believe as much as possible to eat local and seasonal – avoid buying out of season fruits and veg, and definitely avoid imported ones, we have our own homegrown variety of choice when it comes to our pick of the crop.

The backdrop for my table setting is a plain timeless Teal Green, the perfect shade up from Duck Egg Green – a neutral and gentle starting point on which to build. You can always substitute for a soft Mint Green, Pale Turquoise or Aquamarine. Next comes my favourite washed Bright Green plates, simply placed atop the tablecloth – they are clothed in three sets of coloured linens, Dusty Pink, Denim Blue and a Floral Lavender Pink coloured print. This trio of colour adds a blush of pink and paints the perfect contrast to the flush of summer green. The silver cutlery causally placed on the napkins is a reminder of the comfortable meal to come, while the single Endive head acts as both the full stop to the place setting and the capital letter to the start of lunchtime conversation – a perfect combo of colour and co-ordination. I have built a centrepiece around a series of layered green textures, colours, hues, shades and shapes to create a garden of homegrown bounty. With a jumble of small oily green, deep red-purpled veined, soft satiny, curly tinged with yellow, fibrous and crunchy stemmed, oval and upright, jagged edged or simply bunches of loose leaves, I have transformed my table into a visually striking garden of glorious summer green.

A profusion of cabbages, red and green, are interspaced with bunches of asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, fennel, chives and potted pansies – heads and bunches of lettuce fill the gaps and overflow from bowls and vases.

Finally, the glassware pulls the tablescape together, each setting headed by a motley band of three, three different coloured, textured and shaped glassware adds a splash of summer setting and flavour to the scene.

Remember this is the season for your freshest and widest variety of veggies, so the choice is yours – you can substitute beans for broccoli, radishes for red cabbage, beetroots for butter lettuce, but always go for a diversity of colour, texture and shape to ensure and maintain a point of interest. Happy harvesting!

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“It takes four men to dress a salad: a wise man for the salt, a mad man for the pepper, a miser for the vinegar, and a spendthrift for the oil.”

 – Anonymous

This month’s floral design is a continuation of our summer ripened harvest table. Inspired by our local farmers’ market of overflowing baskets of fruit and veggies – I’ve decided that greens not only belong on a plate, but when bunched together make the most spectacular bold bouquet. I have chosen a glass vase to create a sense of continued and airy green, from here I have used structure and height with the larger more solid veggies, the cabbage, kale and spinach, all bunched tightly together before placing them in the vase. The inclusion of green and pink-hued, tight-budded artichokes in the foreground are a fabulously fun inclusion of summer veggie ‘flowers’ – they draw the structure and formality of the arrangement to the foreground. While the whispy sprays of sweet peas and spinach leaves that haphazardly spill from the corners of the vase offer a contrast of soft breezy comfortableness.

Although the arrangement is loose, remember to always create form, working from a high point out to softer edges – developing the arrangement around a subtle triangular shape to create transitions between the ‘foilage.’

Eat.

Salads are my summer way of life. No longer reduced to lettuce, cucumber and tomato, the salad ‘re’volution has changed the shape of salads from boring to mouth-watering extraordinary. Not too long-ago lettuce comprised of your bog-standard Iceberg, now with a move towards homegrown varieties and combos of herbs and veggies, we have access to a world of beautiful basil, butter lettuce, spinach, dandelion greens and more. With this in mind, I’m dying to share with you some of my favourite freshest salad recipes.

Bloody Mary steak salad

Ingredients:

  • 680g rump steak
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of your favourite hot sauce
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery, cut into thin half-moons, plus some leaves if you’d like
  • 1/4 cup chopped green olives, plus 2 tablespoons olive brine
  • 2 tablespoons pickled jalapeños
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Method:

  1. Heat the grill to medium-high or if you’d prefer, heat a grill pan over high heat on the stove top. For now, leave your steak unseasoned and grill well on both sides until it is cooked to the way you like it. I always recommend medium-rare, this means give it 3 to 4 minutes on each side to get that lovely pinkish colour in the middle. When you are satisfied with your steak, put it on a cutting board and let it rest. Great, now you can start preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Get one of your larger bowls, whisk together the vinegars, the lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Now you can stir in the tomatoes, onion, celery, olive and brine, and the jalapeños. Season with a nice amount of ground pepper and mix it through your ingredients.
  3. Cut the steak into fairly thin slices and add to the salad.
  4. Finally, stir in the blue cheese, parsley, and celery leaves and enjoy.
Serves 4

Mushroom and mixed grains salad with carrot-harissa vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 450g button, or shiitake mushrooms (or a mixture), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Maldon salt
  • 1 large bunch baby spinach, and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups mixed grains (such as farro, spelt, and barley)
  • 115g ricotta, crumbled
  • 1⁄2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

For the carrot-harissa vinaigrette:

  • 1⁄2 cup carrot juice
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons harissa, or to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon honey, or to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup extra‐ virgin olive oil
  • Maldon salt

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 190°C. Start by tossing together the mushrooms, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the thyme and place on a baking tray with a baking sheet. Season your mix with salt and spread into a single layer. Roast the mushrooms for about 10 minutes, then spoon off any liquid that’s accumulated so the mushrooms can brown. Roast until brown and tender, this normally takes 5 to 10 minutes more, then transfer the mushrooms to a large plate to cool down.
  2. Toss together the spinach and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil on the same baking sheet. Season with salt and work the oil into the spinach until evenly coated. Roast until the leaves start to wilt, this should take 3 to 5 minutes. Let it cool on the baking sheet.
  3. To make the vinaigrette, whisk or blend all of the ingredients until blended well. Remember the jar trick – simply place all the ingredients into a small jar and shake. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more harissa or lemon juice if needed.
  4. In a large pot, cook each grain separately. Make sure there is enough water to cover the grains by at least 15cm. When the grains are cooked, drain it well and put them in a large serving dish of your choice. Let it cool for a moment, then toss with about half of the       vinaigrette. Toss with the mushrooms, spinach, ricotta, and almonds. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you desire, then drizzle in more vinaigrette and toss again until evenly dressed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted butternut and beetroot salad with sweetcorn salsa and pumpkin seeds

Ingredients:

  •  1 large butternut peeled, deseeded and cut into wedges
  • 4 large beetroot washed
  • 90 ml of olive oil and a little extra to finish
  • 2 mielies cleaned
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of one lime
  • 1 handful of coriander, chopped
  • 5 mint leaves thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 30g toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1 punnet of micro leaves (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat your oven to 220 degrees
  2. Place your beetroot in a pot of water and cook until tender (about 45 minutes)
  3. Mix your butternut with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper
  4. Spread out well apart on a baking tray and roast for about 20 minutes or until just tender (they should blacken slightly)
  5. Mix your cooked beetroot with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
  6. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. When cool slice.
  7. Heat a griddle pan on your stove and when hot add your mielies. Grill until they are well charred, if you need you can add a splash of olive oil.
  8. Once cool using a sharp knife hold each mielie upright on a board and shave off the kernels.
  9. Put these in a bowl with the chilli, lime zest, lime juice remaining olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, the herbs and chilli flakes. Mix and set aside.
  10. Arrange the butternut and beetroot on your platter.
  11. Spoon the salsa on top, sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds.
  12. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and if you want to scatter a handful over micro leaves.

 Serves 4

Watermelon chicken salad

Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning (the Woolies one is fab.)
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 3⁄4 cup natural or plain yoghurt
  • 1⁄4 watermelon, thinly sliced, cut into wedges
  • 2 red radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, cut into ribbons
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄2 cup coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, coarsely chopped (optional)

Method:

  1. Combine the chicken, oil and Moroccan seasoning in a large bowl and season to your liking.
  2. Heat your grill or chargrill on medium-high. Cook the chicken for 3-4 mins on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil. Let it rest for 5min or so. Remember one can finish off cooking in the oven.
  3. Meanwhile, process half the mint in a blender until finely chopped. Add half the yoghurt and blend until smooth.Scrape it out into a bowl and stir in the remaining yoghurt. Again, season to taste.
  4. Arrange the chicken, watermelon, radish, cucumber, onion, coriander and remaining mint on a serving platter. Serve with the yoghurt mixture and pistachios.

Shaved asparagus with burrata, radish and cucumber

Ingredients:

  • 225g asparagus
  • 170g radishes, thinly sliced
  • 170g cucumber, finely diced
  • 115g Burrata
  • Micro-greens or pea greens, or the top
  • Crusty bread, for serving
  • Lime vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more as needed
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 5 tablespoons (75ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus and discard. Snap off the tips, then cut them into thin slices. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the spears lengthwise by holding the end with your hand and peeling away from your hand. You can rest the flat surface you first create on a cutting board for a more stable base as you shave the rest of the spear.
  2. To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lime juice, and lime zest. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more lime juice if necessary.
  3. Divide the radishes, cucumber, and asparagus between two plates. Dollop the burrata, drizzle the vinaigrette, and scatter the micro-greens. Serve with crusty bread if you like.

Serves 4

Salmon and beetroot salad with cherry vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 4 large red beetroots
  • Olive oil, for roasting
  • Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 450g salmon fillets, preferably about 2.5cm thick.
  • Loosely packed wild rocket leaves, or mixture of rocket and watercress
  • 3⁄4 cup sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
  • 1⁄4 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons torn fresh mint

For the cherry vinaigrette:

  • About 5 sweet cherries, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots or spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C. Trim the beetroots and scrub if they’re dirty. Lay a large piece of aluminium foil on a baking sheet, place the beetroots in the centre, and coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Fold the foil to make a packet. Bake until tender (you can check by piercing a fork through the foil), this normally takes 45 minutes, depending on their size. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on. When cool enough to handle, remove them from the foil, peel off the skin, and chop roughly.
  2. While the beetroots roast, you can make the vinaigrette. Pulse the cherries in a food processor. Transfer to a small bowl, then add the shallots, sherry and balsamic vinegars, and a pinch of salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, pepper, or vinegar – this is all up to you.
  3. Place the salmon on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, and coat with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cherry vinaigrette. Roast until the salmon is cooked to your liking, about 10 minutes for medium. Remove from the oven, let it cool, and then break into large pieces.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the wild rocket with just enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves. Then, fold in the chopped cherries, beets, almonds, and mint. Arrange the salad on a large platter, pop in the salmon, and serve.
Serves 4

Slow-roasted duck and apple salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 duck breasts
  • Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1⁄2 onion
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1⁄4 cup apple cider
  • 1⁄4 cup brandy
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  • 1⁄4 cup toasted pistachios
  • 1 cup baby/micro leaves

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 120°C.
  2. Generously season the duck breasts with salt and pepper. In a pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the duck breasts until browned on both sides, it takes about 10 minutes, then transfer to a baking dish. Cut the onion and 1⁄2 apple into four wedges each and add to the baking dish. Pour the duck fat from the pan over everything, followed by the cider and     brandy. Lay the sage leaves on top of the duck, cover it all tightly with aluminium foil, and place the baking dish into the oven for about 50 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven. The duck is completely ready when it is fall‐apart tender.
  4. In a pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Cut the remaining 1 1⁄2 apples into twelve wedges and griddle the wedges until they are just brown but not mushy, about 4 minutes per side.
  5. Remove the skin from the duck breasts and use a fork to pull the meat away from the bone and shred it. Arrange the duck, apples and baby leaves on your plate followed by the roasted onion and apple from the duck pan. Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of pan drippings and the vinegar. Finally, sprinkle with the pistachios to serve.

Crisp salmon, lychee, coriander and chilli salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 4 skinless salmon fillets (about 180g each)
  • 2 tablespoons light‐flavoured oil
  • 300g mange tout
  • 1 small cucumber, finely sliced
  • 20 lychees, peeled, stoned and torn in half, or 565g tin, drained
  • handful coriander leaves
  • handful basil leaves
  • 2 red chillies, de‐seeded and julienned
  • 1⁄2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

Method:

  1. For this recipe we will start by preparing the marinade for the salmon. Combine the fish sauce and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Place the salmon in the marinade for 10 minutes.
  2. Now, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium‐high heat and cook the salmon for 2 minutes on each side. Set aside to rest.
  3. Blanch the mange tout in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain and refresh under cold water. Combine and toss together the mange tout with the cucumber, lychees, coriander, basil, chilli and onion in serving bowl. Break up the salmon.
  4. Mix together the lime juice, fish sauce and the remaining sugar. Place the salmon on a  beautiful platter and top with cucumber and lychees mix from step 3. Pour over the salad and toss gently to serve.

Serves 4

Sandy’s Kitchen
Recommends
Absolute Organix’s Organic Fruit & Veg Spray

I use Absolute Organix’s Organic Fruit & Veg Spray religiously. Sadly, most of our store brought ‘fresh’ fruit and veggies are full of pesticide residues and a quick and easy spritz of this new powerful, all-natural organic spray is the best way to safely eliminate harmful microbes from fresh produce. It also extends freshness. Simply spray, rinse and eat (or leave on to extend freshness).

See. Earth Market Tokai

With the rise of healthy conscious eating, the farmer’s market has sprouted and can even be found weekly in most small towns and villages. The organic street cred of ethically farmed fruit and veggie produce is growing rapidly in popularity – with their policies of no synthetic fertilisers, herbicides and or pesticides it’s really a no brainer for a healthier lifestyle.

The grass is sometimes greener on the other side, with my recent visit to Cape Town, I made time to visit two talked about and very different markets. The first, is the twice weekly Earth Market in Tokai, (https://www.earthfairmarket.co.za) sandwiched between a parking lot and the back end of Builders Warehouse, it seems an odd destination for a touch of green, but the long-haired predominantly barefooted folk that frequent this market seem to be unaware or simply unphased by its surrounding concrete jungle. This Wednesday early evening and Saturday morning market is a favourite amongst locals – platters of oozy Greek Melanzane, lamb and lentil stuffed samoosa’s, freshly baked breads, flowers, fruit and veggies clutter up the stands – spoilt for choice with a selection of organic meats by artisan butcher, Meet the Butcher, a selection of chilled craft beer on tap, from biryani, to burgers, vegan to veggies this market is a winner for the unshowy, down-to-earth type, no posing, just honest good grub. (*All photos of Earth Market in Tokai are taken from their social media pages).

See. Oranjezicht Market

The second, the Orangezicht Saturday market (https://ozcf.co.za/market-day/) and more recently Sunday morning market – slightly more refined, and definitely in the showier category, this market ticks all the Conde Nast chic boxes – it emanates country charm, albeit slightly contrived and a lot more expensive, it’s a fabulous morning out with an array of delectables. From; local cheese and preserves, breads, cold meats, olives and a selection of garlicky dishes, creamy spreads, foraged and cultivated mushrooms, this market will have you salivating in seconds. It’s a difficult choice for breakfast, from pies to pastries to pancakes – there are eggs done every which way with everything in between. Just a tip, don’t go in a rush, this is a busy market and the queues are generally long, but friendly – so ensure you’ve had your caffeine intake before you get there. And once your appetite is sated, don’t forget to get your fill of handpicked and sorted veggies – the choice is large, fresh and seasonal.

Visit. Babylonstoren.

With the markets behind me and still in Cape Town, I was on the hunt for the perfect veggie garden – and I wasn’t disappointed. I was simultaneously delighted and enthralled by two parallel veggie ‘gardens’ one in all its magnificent and grandiose splendour, the food gardens of Babylonstoren, and the other a haphazard, but equally loved and tended to garden of Willem – the 84 year old retired Estate agent who has turned his green fingers into a small but sustainable industry.

Babylonstoren is a place of dreams, of magic and wonder – it’s breathtakingly spectacular and requires a mandatory visit for all. With plenty of space and fresh air, this working farm is encouraged and cultivated to thrive and grow with a host of gardeners headed up by Liesl van der Walt. The garden is made up of over 300 varieties of plants, and all have either an edible or medicinal value – with “15 clusters spanning vegetable areas, stone and pome fruits, nuts, citrus, berries, bees, herbs, ducks and chickens, a prickly pear maze and more.” Natural streams and ponds feed this free-range life, keeping it ready for harvest all year long. The feathery friends of this farm live a genuinely free-range and happy life, waddling slowly between visitors for their daily plunge.

Visits to the gardens take place daily and start at 10h00 in front of the Farm Shop. Your guide is one of the many experienced gardeners who will leave you a lot more educated than before and with the touch, taste and smell of Babylonstoren on your fingertips.

For more details view the garden map see below https://babylonstoren.com/assets/pdf/Garden_Map.pdf

Visit. Willem's.

I came across Willem’s while meandering through the back roads of Somerset West – his crumbled down manor house still dustily reminiscent of its Cape Dutch vernacular, with a real-life living history barn that had housed the Voortrekkers oxwagen and cattle some 160 years before stood stoically in the foreground. However, it wasn’t the architecture of the property that gave in to my curiosity, but rather the enormous brightly painted sign that screamed “Willem’s fresh vegetables and herbs text 082 565 2098” – a somewhat serendipitous encounter seeing that this month’s lifestyle blog is all about green. I quickly manhandled my car to his front gate and after a few missed calls, and couple of hoots later, I emerged into a sprawling overgrowth of vegetable and herb heaven – not to mention avocado’s like I’ve never seen or tasted before. Willem initially kept shyly to himself, while we were greeted by June his 82-year-old wife, who ethereally emerged from the Manor house to welcome me. Walking around the grounds it was clear to see the ghostly resemblance of what would have once been gracious grounds and a stately home, now sadly encroached by development and urban decay. I slowly walked and talked to June in a mix of my broken Afrikaans and her broken English, she delighted me in the tales of the farm and then introduced me to the man of the manor – Willem.

Willem, is rather long than tall and a slightly bent gentleman of 84, retired as an Eiendomsagent (estate agent) some 4 years ago, he has since turned his hand to the soil, pulling weeds and brambles to transform his land into a sustainable way of living. He has ploughed and planted rows and rows of lettuces, spinach, beetroots, chives, rocket, cabbages and rows and rows of everything else. His citrus trees are swollen with the brightest, biggest lemons, while his avocado trees are weighted down with fat and fleshy avo’s. He sells plants that he has had propagated and reared, all flourishing and ready for a new home.

This organic farm holds all sorts of treasures, but my favourite was Willem closely followed by his side kick second-hand beat-up pitbull – which he rescued from a dog fighting set up, and since never left his side. This farm is a country jewel, not only for its organic fresh produce that it provides to the surrounding area but for its history, its heart-warming tale and most importantly its people.

Try your hand at your very own veggie garden with our top workshop pics for veggie gardens:

https://www.soilforlife.co.za/courses-and-workshops

https://babylonstoren.com/workshops

https://urbanharvest.co.za/services/#courses

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