By: Sharon Lurie
Since I started making and selling salad dressings, my fridge has looked like a science project with every sized glass beaker and test tube available. Once you start making dressings, you don’t stop experimenting. Finally, after the thumbs-up from the ‘Lury Jury’ which now, Baruch Hashem, includes over 40 tasters, “Bobba Shar’s Heimishe dressing” made it onto the shelves and is available at most kosher outlets. Please G-d, next to join our condiments family will be a dark Thai-style dressing. The search for authentic dark ingredients was made so much sweeter when a friend suggested I try date syrup. But not just any; it had to be home-grown 100% pure Ms Sweetheart’s date syrup. So we dated and it fulfilled all it promised to be and more! Healthy, sweet, smooth talking, dark, and the perfect match for the “Don’t pass me by – Thai Salad” (recipe below).
With all the magical and wonderful fruits in season now (I love summer in Africa) let’s start creating!
GRILLED APRICOT SALAD, FETA SALAD
Fresh apricots, for some, can be a little sour sometimes. You know that feeling when a little quiver runs down your spine and your mouth and eyes wrinkle up! Well, I’ve come up with a solution to erase this. Cut them in half, remove the pip, and paint them with a combination of oil and apricot jam or date syrup and fry over hot heat (only on one side) to caramelise them.
10-12 fresh apricots cut in half (pips removed)
4 cups assorted green leaves, including arugula and basil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tbl apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 orange (1/3 cup)
2 cloves of fresh garlic crushed.
4 Tbls olive oil
Feta cheese (as much as you enjoy)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Toasted cashew nuts (optional)
Heat a lined or smooth frying pan.
Paint the cut sides of the apricots with oil and jam or syrup. (This can be done the day before and sliced into ½cm slices and refrigerated)
Fry for about 2 minutes on the cut side until seared but intact. Remove from the heat.
They can also be placed on a baking tray and grilled in the oven.
Whisk together vinegars, olive oil, garlic, orange juice, salt and pepper.
Toss green salad leaves together and place onto platter or bowl.
Sprinkle with crumbled feta and apricots and just before serving drizzle with dressing.
A little tip I received from a ‘crispy pickled cucumber maker’ was to place the cucumbers into a bowl and cover them completely with ice cold water and about 3 trays of ice. To prevent them from bouncing up to the top and not getting completely submerged place a large clean dishcloth over them. The cloth will absorb water, adding weight to keep the cucumbers submerged. Leave them for about 1 hour. Here’s to crispy pickled cucumbers!
20-24 Israeli cucumbers (small variety)
750ml white vinegar
3 bottles water (use vinegar bottle to measure)
8 tablespoons sugar
3 Tbls salt
10-12 garlic cloves crushed (less if you’re not too partial to garlic)
2 Tbls whole pepper corns
8 bay leaves
Bring vinegar, water, sugar, salt, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves to the boil, then allow to cool.
Place cucumbers into large pickling bottle and only when the liquid is cool, add it to the cucumbers.
(Option: My family love chilies in their pickled cucumbers so I add 2 sliced in half, seeds removed).
If you have any pickle juice left over, add more cucumbers or shredded cabbage and some caraway seeds so as not to waste any of this delicious juice.
GLAZED AND ROASTED MULTICOLOURED CARROT WITH ASSORTED CRUNCHY SEEDS
Do you know what really makes this salad amazing? The dressing, the sweetness of the carrots, glaze of the date syrup, saltiness of the feta, and crunchiness of the seeds. A salad to present to the finest of diners.
6-8 coloured carrots (they usually come in a pack of red, yellow, orange, and purple)
1 Tbl date syrup (I use Ms Sweetheart’s)
3 Tbls olive oil
Feta (as much as desired)
½ cup mixed seeds (I prefer to toast them)
Preheat oven to 180C.
The carrots usually come in different sizes, from baby to large. If they are baby, then there’s no need to peel them (as you may have nothing left); just clean them well with steel wool, then wash well. If they are thicker or larger and can be peeled then cut them into sticks (as per pic).
Place the carrots into a bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon date syrup and 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Mix well and place (uncovered) on a tin foil-lined baking tray.
Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until soft, this of course depends on the size (check with a toothpick).
They should caramelise but don’t overcook.
Once cooked, sprinkle with feta cheese (or if you’d prefer to go the fleishik route: fry 150-200g finely shredded and chopped smoked brisket or macon and leave out the feta).
Should you wish to dress it further, use Bobba Shar’s Heimishe salad dressing available at most kosher outlets.
This should be served at room temperature.
ROASTED STUFFED CHICKPEA AND ZA’ATAR AUBERGINES
Two large eggplants (cut in half lengthwise)
1 tin chickpeas (drained well)
3 cloves of fresh garlic (I love garlic so I use more)
¼ cup mayonnaise
Topping (mix together in a small bowl)
Za’atar (2 tablespoons)
Chilli flakes (½ tsp)
Paprika (½ tsp)
Salt and pepper (½ tsp of each)
Drizzle of olive oil
Preheat oven to 200C.
Paint eggplants with a little olive oil.
Roast eggplant/aubergines (whatever you prefer to call mine) until soft and golden brown. (Can take as long as 45 minutes to 1 hour.)
Remove from oven and scoop out the inside flesh (be careful not to scoop to close to the edge of the eggplant – I normally leave about ½cm around the edge.
Blend the scooped out flesh of the eggplant with 1 tin of drained chickpeas, garlic, and mayonnaise.
Spoon the mixture back into the shell of the eggplant and sprinkle with Za’atar, chilli flakes, salt, pepper, paprika, and a drizzle of oil.
AFRICAN-STYLE CHAKALAKA PASTA
This dish must be one of the easiest salads to prepare! The most difficult part is ensuring the pasta is al dente (firm to the bite). Whichever pasta you choose ensure you read the instructions. Always put pasta into boiling salted water and drain immediately. Allowing it to sit in the hot water for even a minute longer can make it mushy.
250g pasta of your choice (remember not to overcook – I like farfalle, gnocchi, or orzo. Orzo is my first choice)
1 tin chakalaka (hot, medium, or mild – your choice)
When the pasta is cold, add the tinned or bottled chakalaka of your choice.
Gently mix and serve.
One can add roughly chopped nuts for a little extra texture.
BUILD-A- SALAD NICOISE WITH BOBBA SHAR’S SALAD DRESSING
Loving tuna has enabled me to make tuna blintzes, tuna fish cakes, curried tuna, tuna pie, and one of my favourites: salad Nicoise.
With Bobba Shar’s Heimishe salad dressing it’s become one of the hottest “sellers” in my house.
Having all the salad ingredients chopped and ready in separate containers/ziplocs so that those who don’t eat eggs (like me) or peppers (like some others) don’t have to remove it from a big, ready-made salad.
Olives (pips removed – nobody needs to break a tooth)
Boiled baby potatoes
Sliced mushrooms (I like to keep them marinating in store-bought Italian salad dressings)
Red/yellow/green peppers (chopped or thinly sliced)
Red or white onions thinly sliced
Green beans (blanched)
Tuna fish (canned is fine as long as you take it out of the can and place it into a covered bowl or are going to use the entire tin)
DON’T PASS BY THIS THAI
4 cups shredded cabbage (I prefer a combination of red and green cabbage)
100g baby corn
100g snap peas
½ cup shredded carrots (matchstick style)
Sliced cucumber (matchstick style)
Fresh coriander to decorate
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce (All Joy as it’s gluten free)
¼ cup date syrup (I use Ms Sweetheart’s)
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 clove crushed garlic
2 Tbls toasted sesame seeds
Place all the ingredients into a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid and shake vigorously.
Just before serving shake again and drizzle over salad.
Decorate with fresh coriander.