Food – Extras to lick your chops too

2010-09-10 12:26

September is braai month and while steak, boerewors and chops should be the centrepiece of the day – there’s no reason why your side dishes can’t be imbued with a little star quality too.

Potato salad is passé as is the wiltingly, uninspired green salad. Below are a trio of ideas for side dishes to make your braai day greens a lot more imaginative.

Caramelised sweet potato salad
Ingredients:

»?1kg sweet potatoes, white and ­orange fleshed ones, if possible

»?1 packet streaky bacon

»?1 packet spring onions, finely chopped

»?a generous glug of olive oil

»?a generous glug of balsamic ­vinegar

»?Salt and pepper to season

Method:
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Chop the sweet potatoes into pieces of about 2cm² with skin on or off, it’s your choice.

Put the potatoes into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the diced streaky bacon and spring ­onions over them.

Drizzle with ­olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss to coat.

Season with salt and pepper. Put the dish in the oven for about 20 minutes on 200, then turn the oven down to 180 for about an hour, or until the ­potatoes are soft and beginning to caramelise.

Creamy minty cucumbers
Adapted from River Café Two Easy, this salad is decadent and passes for green too.

Ingredients:
»?2 English cucumbers or about 10 Israeli cucumbers, peeled, deseeded and sliced into 5cm long pieces

»?1 handful of fresh mint leaves

»?250g mascarpone or smooth cottage cheese

»?5 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream

»?1 lemon, juiced

»?a generous glug of olive oil

»?1 hot red chilli sliced

»?salt and pepper to season

Method:
Toss the cucumber, shredded mint leaves, olive oil and lemon juice ­together.

Season well. Combine the mascarpone and crème fraiche and season well. Put the cucumber mixture on a flat serving plate and serve with the creamy dip next to it.

Sprinkle the chilli slices on top.

To complete your side dish colour palette, buy ripe tomatoes like plum, cherry and any others on ­offer.

Cut them all up into chunks, rip up some fresh basil and dress it with olive oil and lemon juice.

For eastern flair, swop the basil for coriander and dress it with rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.

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