Create braai side dishes with pride

IT’S Heritage Day on Tuesday and for many South Africans the most obvious way of celebrating their heritage is a good old-fashioned braai – no wonder September 24 is also national Braai Day!

Angie Creaven (front, third from left) shows off her Caesar salad as some of her cooking class participants look on. Picture: Salvelio Meyer
Forget sport, it’s the braai fires that unite us best. But, prime as the meat may be, many a braai unfortunately is characterised by uninspiring side dishes usually involving choice ingredients like canned beans, beetroot in vinegar and grated carrot!

We asked Port Elizabeth chef Angie Creaven, of Posh, to create four side dishes you can serve with pride alongside your braai this week.

Angie showed Louise Liebenberg how to make these in one of her regular cooking classes at her home in Mount Croix.
CANNELLINI BEAN AND ROASTED VEGETABLE SALAD
Serves 6
2 medium aubergines
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, halved and cleaned
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
2-3 courgettes
1 tin cannellini beans, drained
4 cloves garlic
quarter cup olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper
quarter cup chopped parsley and coriander.
Cut the veggies into strips and place in a roasting tray. Add the garlic. Sprinkle a little olive oil over and roast in a hot oven for about 40 minutes. Allow to cool.
Combine the beans with the cooled vegetables and toss with the dressing.
Serve on a bed of watercress.
PUMPKIN WEDGES WITH COCONUT PESTO
Angie says this side dish is especially good with lamb or beef.
“It really is simple and you can use cashew nuts (yum!) instead of almonds in the pesto,” she says.
“You can also use butternut instead of the pumpkin. I use the blue pumpkin as I find the white variety a bit insipid.” Serves 4-6
1kg pumpkin
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chutney
quarter cup olive oil.
For the pesto:
1 cup coriander leaves
2 cloves garlic
half tsp chilli
half cup almonds
quarter tin coconut cream
1 tbs lemon juice
seasoning.
Cut the pumpkin into thin wedges. Remove the pips but leave the skin on.
Combine the spices with the chutney and oil and coat the wedges.
Cook the pumpkin over the coals or in the oven until tender.
To make the pesto place coriander, garlic, chilli and nuts into a processor. Blitz until well combined but not too smooth. Season with salt and pepper and add the coconut cream and lemon juice.
Transfer to a bowl and serve with the wedges.
CAESAR SALAD
This is a classic recipe and it is fantastic alongside a braai, Angie says. “And it’s all about the dressing – that’s what makes this dish.”
6 slices white bread
oil for frying
1 med lettuce (preferably butter or a mixture of leaves)
1 tin anchovy fillets, drained and thinly sliced
1 cup Parmesan shavings
2 medium-boiled eggs or else 1 softly poached egg per person.
Dressing:
1 egg
1 large clove garlic, crushed
half tsp Dijon mustard
half of the above tin anchovies
180 ml olive oil
juice of half lemon
Remove crusts from the bread and cut or tear into small cubes. You can grill these in the oven till crispy – absolutely no oil is needed but do watch them as they burn easily!
Combine the lettuce with the anchovies and cheese. Top with the croutons just before serving, followed with the egg (if using poached) otherwise just decorate with the sliced, boiled egg.
For the dressing: Blend the egg, garlic and anchovies well. Add the mustard and then gradually add the olive oil. Add the lemon juice towards the end and taste for seasoning (taste first before adding!)
QUINOA WITH PISTACHIOS, SPINACH AND TOMATOES
Don’t be put off by this unusual grain from South America, Angie says. It’s really very easy to cook. This recipe is extremely flexible and you can use what you have – or ring the changes – for instance by using rocket instead of spinach.
You can also toss in crumbled feta or sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds just before serving, she says.
“The salad is great with a basic salad dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. Avocado is also lovely with this.”
Angie says you must cook the quinoa until it becomes transparent. “Don’t stir but occasionally give it a little agitation with a wooden fork.”
She also says you should rather add boiling water as you go than add too much in the beginning.
400g quinoa
150g baby tomatoes
150g baby spinach
100g pistachios, peeled
2 tbs torn mint leaves
2 tbs chopped basil
olive oil
lemon juice
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs toasted sesame or sunflower seeds
seasoning.
Place the quinoa in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes or until just tender (do not overcook). Drain very well and allow to cool.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork (as with couscous) and season.
In a small saucepan heat a little olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sweat for a minute or two. Add the cumin and fry off for a couple of seconds. Remove from the stove and allow to cool.
Halve the tomatoes and add to the quinoa with the spinach. Add the nuts and herbs and season.
Add the cooled onion and cumin mixture and gently toss together. Add a little extra olive oil if necessary and the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning.

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