Add a burst of Flavour. Add a delicious and healthy dimension to your dishes with fresh herbs.
Pour over larger pieces of meat or whole chicken a few hours before cooking, or over fish, filleted chicken or vegetables half an hour before cooking.
Makes: about 200ml Preparation time: 10 minutes
250ml flat-leaf parsley (or half parsley and half coriander)
60ml fresh oregano
5 cloves garlic, peeled
4 spring onions
125ml olive oil
30ml red wine vinegar
30ml lime juice
3-5ml cayenne pepper
1 red chilli, seeded
2ml freshly ground black pepper
1 Pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Pour the sauce over the meat or vegetables you want to marinate. You can also use some of the sauce for the marinade and the remaining sauce to spoon over the cooked ingredients once served. Leave to marinate overnight if it is a large piece of steak, beef or pork, or for a shorter time if it is chicken, vegetables or fish.
2 To cook, remove the food from the marinade dish and cook over hot or medium-hot coals on the braai. Baste with leftover marinade while cooking. You can also roast whole chicken pieces in the oven.
Chickpea salad with fennel
Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus standing time
Cooking time: 3 minutes
15ml lemon juice
30ml apple cider vinegar
5ml roasted cumin seeds
60ml olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
50ml freshly chopped parsley
50ml freshly chopped fennel leaves
1 medium fennel bulb, halved and very thinly sliced
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 punnet courgettes
50ml sliced piquante peppers
125ml feta cheese, to serve (optional)
1 Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, cumin seeds and olive oil. Add the onion and garlic.
Stir in the chopped parsley and fennel leaves.
2 Mix the sliced fennel bulb in with the chickpeas. Pour the dressing over and leave to stand for at least an hour.
3 Cut the courgettes into quarters lengthways and fry them for 2-3 minutes in a little oil. Set aside to cool.
4 Just before serving, stir the courgettes and piquante peppers into the chickpea mix. Crumble feta over the top, if you prefer. Serve as an accompaniment to grilled fish or chicken.
Stuffed pasta shells with ricotta and nettle
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Oven temperature: 200°C
400g nettle leaves (or half nettle and half baby spinach leaves)
60ml freshly snipped chives
400g ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 punnet fresh basil
30ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
5ml sweet paprika
500g cherry tomatoes (or baby rosa), halved
30ml freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
200ml prepared vegetable stock
500g pack of large pasta shells (conchiglioni) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 Put rubber gloves on and wash the nettles. Put them in a bowl and cover with boiling water for 20 seconds. Drain and refresh with cold water. Drain and chop roughly.
2 Mix the nettles with the chives, ricotta and egg. Chop half the basil and add to the mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
3 Heat the olive oil and saute the onion until soft. Add the paprika and tomatoes. Cook for about three minutes, until the tomatoes start to soften. Remove from the heat. Add the parsley and stock and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
4 Cook the pasta shells for about 10 minutes in a large pot of boiling water. Drain then fill each one with the ricotta and nettle mixture.
5 Place the shells into a greased ovenproof dish. Spoon in the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with half the Parmesan. Cover and bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
6 Serve sprinkled with the remaining Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.
Vietnamese-style filled pancakes
Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus standing time
Cooking time: 20 minutes
250ml cake flour
1 ml ground turmeric
2,5ml bicarbonate of soda
400ml coconut milk
1 large egg peanut oil (or sunflower oil)
2-3 chicken breast fillets
30ml oyster sauce
30ml sweet chilli sauce
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
4 spring onions, julienned
1 pack of snow peas, sliced
250ml Chinese bean sprouts
1 fresh chilli, seeded and chopped
125ml chopped fresh coriander
80ml chopped basil
30ml chopped mint
20ml chopped lemon balm (optional) chilli and lime sauce, to serve (see recipe below), or use more sweet chilli sauce
1 Pancakes Mix the flour, turmeric, 1ml salt and the bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl. Add the coconut milk, milk and egg and beat until smooth. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.
2 Heat a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add a little oil and swirl it around to coat the pan. Add a ladle full ofthe pancake mixture to the pan and swirl it round to cover the base ofthe pan. Cook until set, then flip over and cook the other side. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining batter.
3 Filling Slice the chicken thinly. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and stir-fry the chicken over a high heat. Once it is almost cooked, stir in the oyster and sweet chilli sauces. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add all the remaining filling ingredients to the chicken just before serving.
4 Spoon the filling onto the pancakes. Drizzle with a little chilli and lime sauce. Fold or roll up. Eat as a starter or light meal.
Chilli and lime sauce
Mix together 60ml lime or lemon juice, 5ml sesame oil, 10ml brown sugar, 15ml rice vinegar, 5ml tamarind paste, 5ml grated fresh ginger, 1 clove crushed garlic, and 1-2 chopped and seeded chillies.
Pumpkin fritters with rosemary and thyme syrup
Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus standing time Cooking time: 20 minutes
300g cooked pumpkin, well drained
120g (220ml) cake flour
5ml baking powder
1 ml salt
1 large egg, beaten sunflower oil, for shallow frying blue cheese, to serve (optional)
Rosemary and thyme syrup
105g (125ml) sugar
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 Syrup Heat 140ml water with the sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the herbs. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside for an hour to infuse then strain and discard the herbs.
2 Fritters Mix the ingredients for the fritters together. Heat some oil in a non-stick pan and fry the fritters until browned on both sides and cooked through. Drain on absorbent paper.
3 Serve hot, drizzled with the syrup, and with a slice of blue cheese, if you prefer.
Cooking with herbs
1 THYME is a versatile herb that goes well with many different ingredients. Try roasting it with fruit like pears or peaches, or make a thyme syrup and add to a fruit salad.
2 MINT adds a refreshing flavour to drinks and food. Add chopped mint to cooked couscous or a salad made with cucumber and feta. It goes well with chicken and lamb.
3 CHIVES will add a light onion flavour to any dish. Try adding a sprinkling of freshly snipped chives to your garlic bread, serve with butter over cooked sweet corn, or add to egg dishes like scrambled eggs or omelettes.
4 ROSEMARY is used often in Mediterranean-style dishes. It has a strong, aromatic flavour and goes particularly well with lamb dishes. Burn a branch of it along with your wood to add flavour to your food when you are braaiing.
5 ORIGANUM goes well with tomatoes, aubergine and lamb. Sprinkle on pizza or on a Greek salad.
6 BASIL Use it in Mediterranean-style dishes. It is also often used in Asian dishes like stir-fries and curries.
7 STINGING NETTLE grows abundantly in spring. Many people think it is just a weed, but it is a useful herb that can be cooked as a vegetable, in much the same way as spinach. Add it to pasta sauces, stews or soups. It is said to have many health benefits and to be rich in antioxidants and fibre.
8 FENNEL leaves have an aniseed flavour that goes well in citrus dishes. Fennel also goes very well with fish, especially salmon, and is delicious in salads, especially ones with avocado.
9 LEMON BALM has a delicate lemon flavour. Chop it and add to salads or use in fruit drinks or sorbets. The delicate flavour will be lost if cooked too long, so rather add it at the end of the cooking time. It goes well with fish, chicken, pork or lamb.
10 CORIANDER is popular in Mexican, Indian and Thai dishes. Add to stews, curries, soups, salads, stir-fries, egg dishes, dips and dressings.