Sometimes when you are eating a particular meal you feel like you have “come home”.
Last week I was eating a solo meal, very simple: a bowl of hummus, a Greek salad and dipping hunks of fresh baguette into the hummus. It was tasty and took me straight back to the area I lived in for 10 years. Jerusalem, where fresh veggies and hummus are dished up all over the city and also the Greek islands I frequently visited during my sojourn in Israel.
There’s something very relevant and comforting about partaking of a meal that is familiar, that kind of safety zone that comes with the knowledge that it has tastes you can associate with and that you may have longed for.
I made the Greek salad again over the weekend, jazzing it up a bit for the guests we had invited for a braai and also made a pasta salad with bacon for the hungry teenagers to accompany the boerewors and the grilled chicken.
Both salads along with some crusty bread can be eaten as meals in themselves and also, with matric exams in full swing, the pasta salad is power food that is sustaining and filling.
Deluxe Greek salad
3 large ripe but firm red tomatoes
3 Israeli cucumbers
1 green pepper
1/2 red onion
flat leaf parsley
fresh oregano or thyme
2 tsp small capers, drained
2 discs of feta, drained
handful or black olives
Fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Get a nice medium size bowl and wipe clean.
Cut the tomatoes into medium size wedges or use baby tomatoes and cut in half.
Layer the plate with the tomatoes, then the cucumber, cut into slices at an angle, the strips of pepper, sliced onions and finally the cheese, broken roughly into chunks or sliced.
Scatter the olives and capers on top and then the fresh herbs and drizzle olive oil and squirts of lemon juice over and finally season with salt and pepper. Optional, if you can’t get fresh herbs, is the addition of half a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs.
Pasta salad with bacon and marinaded mozzarella
500g coloured fusilli
250 g bacon
200 g mozzarella
1 large clove fresh garlic, chopped
Fresh herbs (parsley or basil)
1 large, ripe tomato
Cut the mozzarella into 1cm cubes and place in a dish and cover it with olive oil, freshly chopped herbs and the garlic. Allow to marinade for about 30 minutes.
Take a packet of coloured pasta screws (fusilli) and boil until al dente. Put in a colander, drain and drizzle with olive oil, mixing it in gently. Reserve the pasta.
Grill the bacon or fry until the fat is crispy. Cut or tear into 3cm pieces and fold into the salad.
Dice the tomato into tiny pieces and add into the mixture and then add in the mozzarella with the marinade juice.
Mix in some fresh herbs and dress with more oil, lemon and a spoon or two of sour cream and good quality mayonnaise.
Optional is to add some dried chilli flakes. Season with salt and pepper.
This salad is great hot or cold and a great accompaniment to a braai.