Every day can be Valentine’s

Burrata and parma ham salad.

Valentine’sDay has come and gone and we celebrated it earlier on the weekend as Tuesdays are always deadline night, meaning the day has been fraught with meeting newspaper deadlines and there’s no time to cook up a storm, big or small.

Valentine’s has become such a big commercial venture that one tries to steer away from the conventional ways of celebration: read buying roses for hundreds of rands and food that costs a fortune.

To this end I discovered the most wonderful Italian cheese shop and deli in my travels last week and used goodies I bought there for a wonderful starter. For mains we simply made braaied angel fish with pink fir potatoes which resemble in looks, but definitely not in taste, sweet potatoes.

Then with left overs I made a salad.

So while Valentine’s is over, treat your sweetheart to these or one of these dishes any day of the week when you want to appreciate your better half.

Parma ham and burrata salad

Burrata is a special festive cheese and it has a solid outer curd made from fresh mozzarella, which is formed into a hollow pouch, then filled with a soft, stringy curd and fresh cream. It has a wonderful milky, buttery flavour that’s rich without being too indulgent.

Real magic happens when the burrata is sliced open and the creamy insides spill out. You can look for burrata in markets, cheese shops, and in the cheese section of specialty grocery stores but if you can’t find it use fior di latte or fresh mozzarella as it is called, which is that lovely fresh white mozzarella not that dyed yellow plastic cheese that is often sold under the same name.

Ingredients

For two people you’ll need:

One ball of burrata or one ball of fresh buffalo or cow’s milk mozzarella

80g thinly sliced parma ham

1 large cup of ripe baby tomatoes or two medium-sized quartered tomatoes

1 handful fresh basil washed, dried and stems removed

The best extra virgin olive oil you can afford

Salt, black pepper

Method

Take a pretty plate or platter and separate the leaves of parma ham. Take each slice and twist it and then drape each slice on the plate.

Scatter the tomatoes over and just before serving, cut the burrata ball in half and put on top of the salad and scatter with basil leaves.

Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.

Grilled angelfish salad

Ingredients

500gpiecefresh angel fish, filleted

Babypotatoesor pink fir potatoes

1 handful parsely

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic

Method

Chop the parsley and garlic very finely and mix in a few glugs of olive.

Spread the mixture on the fish and put on the braai, skin side down to crisp and then the flesh side. Do not overcook; when the flesh is white, it’s done.

Serve with cooked potatoes.

To make a salad from the leftovers flake the fish into bite-sized pieces and slice the potatoes into rounds.

Layer a platter with sliced Israeli cucumbers and baby tomatoes, top with the fish and the potatoes and dot with a teaspoon of capers.

Make a tartare sauce by mixing a cup of mayo with a glug of olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice.

Finely chop two or three pickled cucumbers, drain the juice and mix in with the mayo. Drizzle over the salad and with a crusty bread.