Thursday, April 1, 2010

A tale of two warm salads (and an old friend comes for dinner)

One would imagine that when two self-styled foodistas (don't you hate that word?) get together for an evening of nosh and natter in the kitchen, that their combined knowledge, talent and enthusiasm would result in an extraordinary meal, one imminently worth blogging about. And so, when my oldest friend Sasha...

(INTERMISSION: Let us pause here for a moment to picture two girls in school uniforms, each just shy of their 10th birthday. One is fed up with her current gaggle of catty friends and in need of succor, and so ventures up to the other girl one break [little break], and says simply, 'Can I be your friend?' The other girl says, 'Okay,' and that, to quote Casablanca, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Fast forward 19 years or so, and one of those girls is the editor of foodie mag Avocado, and the other has taken to publishing rants and recipes on her blog called 'Koek!' It is a mystery how these two — with their love of food — are still able to fit into size 34 jeans. END INTERMISSION)

... and I were trawling the food isles at Woolies, unable to agree on what to cook, it came as somewhat of a surprise that, when I tentatively suggested, 'Mashed potato?', she replied, 'Yes! Thank God! That's just what I feel like.' So that's what we did. In-between catching up on gossip and bad-mouthing women we deemed more attractive than us, we made and ate mashed potato and some sort of ready-crumbed fish. Oh and some broccoli — steamed, plain. We watched a dreadful movie called 500 Days of Summer, and went to bed, completely satisfied that we'd had hoot of an evening.

So go figure.

But I do not come to this blog post empty-handed. I have two scrumptious offerings that are guaranteed crowd pleasers. Enjoy...

Lentil, salami and feta salad
Serves 4

4 tbsp olive oil
4 chorizo sausages, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large handful fresh thyme,
leaves picked
2 cups green lentils, washed
11/2 litres chicken stock
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
100ml red wine vinegar
100g baby spinach leaves
120g feta, sliced

1. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned.
2. Add the garlic and thyme, and cook for a further minute (be careful not to let the garlic brown).
3. Add the lentils and stock, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Set aside to cool slightly for 10 minutes.
4. Combine the Dijon mustard and vinegar, and stir through the lentils. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Add the spinach to the lentils and divide the salad between four plates.
6. Top with feta slices and serve with crusty bread.

Chicken salad with bocconcini and croutons
Serves 4

300g cherry tomatoes
Olive oil, to taste
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 loaf ciabatta, broken into chunks
1 roasted chicken, sliced
250g bocconcini, torn
30g basil leaves, torn

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Place the tomatoes in a baking tray and drizzle with a little oil and the vinegar. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until the skin begins to wrinkle.
2.Add the bread chunks to the tray and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Roast for 5 or 6 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.
3. Remove from the oven and arrange the chicken slices so that they nestle between the croutons and tomatoes.
4. Top with the bocconcini, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, scatter with basil leaves
and serve.

These photos were taken by Deryck van Steenderen for Psychologies magazine.


  1. Mouth-watering photos again! Love to try the roasted tomatoes in salad. The sweetness must be more intensified. Thanks!

  2. lovely pictures of lovely salads!
    i'm happy to stop by again!
    have a gerat easter!

  3. They both sound super, but I've gotta say those thick slices of salami has won me over to the lentil salad side.

  4. Wow, your photos are stunning and the salami would definitely be my favorite.

  5. I thought the sausage was beets in the top photo. Swap the two out and I would eat that entire plate! :) I hated 500 Days of Summer too - a waste of 2 hours.

  6. 2 georgous & ooh so tasty superb salads!!

    Ooy yeah!!

  7. Hey, I can totally relate! I like to relax when I am with my friend and I don't care what I eat, a baked potato? Fine! crackers and cheese? Great!
    Wonderful salads too, by the way~

  8. Oh yes, mashed potatoes indeed! The food of the Gods. Love the recipes: both sound like perfect teen-fodder. I could eat salad for supper every day, but it's quite a challenge for me to come up with salads that are substantial enough to sustain fast-growing teen boys. Thank you.

  9. Both salads look magnificent! I made a warm lentil salad for the first time not too long ago. I really enjoyed it. I'd love to give this recipe a try soon. Have a lovely week!

  10. 500 days of summer = crap

    this meal = awesome



  11. oh, i do love a good warm lentil / feta salad. I love roasted beets, here, but the chorizo sounds smashing.

  12. The lentil salad will be copied. Looks amazing!


  13. Both salads sound delicious and the photographs are really beautiful.

  14. Both salads look to die for! I lovethe pictures and presentation.



  15. Both your recipes look and sound delicious. There are few things in life more pleasant than a visit with an old and trusted friend. I know you had a wonderful time. This is my first visit to your blog. I found you by accident but I'll be back often to see what you're cookin' up. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  16. Bizarrely, that is *exactly* how my best friend at primary school wooed me. Also: you're awesome.

  17. Two great looking salads to try. Your photos are great and I love your story.