Test Kitchen Recipe: A super salad from 'Cook with 7de Laan'!

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By Louise Liebenberg

THE show has become a South African phenomenon right up there with boerebeskuit and putupap, with 1.5-million viewers (including Salvelio!) tuning in every weekday for a sweet and satisfying slice of 7de Laan pie.

The makers of the popular SABC2 soapie have discovered just the right recipe to keep viewers glued to their seats – and now, thanks to a savvy marketing initiative, viewers can also cook like their television heroes.

The glossy new Cook with 7de Laan, which also has an Afrikaans version in 7de Laan Kook, has been such a hit that it is already on its second print run, according to publicist Surita Joubert, of NB Publishers.

The book has flown off the shelves since it became available at stores around the country on October 19, so thousands of 7de Laan fans can no doubt expect to find a copy of it in their Christmas stocking.

“The book has been on the shelves for under six weeks and the first print run of 34 000 sold out in the first two weeks,” Joubert said. “It’s doing phenomenally well and is already needing a second print run.”

Both editions were the top sellers with Leisure Books and at stockists around the country, she added. “The book was also a regular topic in the television show, culminating in a grand banquet, and the feedback we and the booksellers have received from the public is that it has a wonderful variety of recipes that are not too difficult to make.”

Seven of the most loved characters from the soapie were selected to share recipes, each of which is illustrated by a colour photograph. Regular viewers will immediately recognise many of these dishes from the programme – from Hilda van Zyl’s curious Sunrise Surprise Special and comforting date fingers that are doled out to anyone facing a crisis, to Matrone Netta Nortje’s famous hertzoggies and Oppiekoffie owner Charmaine Meintjies’s hearty chicken breyani that typically has hubby Neville polishing his plate and begging for more.

There is something for every type of home cook, from traditional comfort food Moekie style, to Matrone and Hilda’s most decadent hip-padders. For something a little more swish and sophisticated, diva deluxe Paula van der Lecq shares classy cocktails and calorie-counting stir fries, while cooking whiz/shop assistant Lukas Mulder makes a mean roasted ostrich fillet and an avocado and salmon mousse. Deli owner Vince Meintjies shares party snacks and salads (like the one you can try below) while Oubaas and Hilda’s loyal domestic, Maria Zibula, tries her hand at farmhouse favourites like Oubaas’s mum Moekie’s saddle of lamb.

7de Laan producer Danie Odendaal said he was “delighted about the project” and had even tested some of the recipes himself – “at last I know what Hilda’s date fingers and Matrone’s milk tart taste like”.

Cook with 7de Laan/7de Laan Kook is published by Human & Rousseau, an imprint of NB Publishers, and retails for R250.

* Try Vince’s Mediterranean-style lentil and aubergine salad below!

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Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Recipe: Lentil, aubergine and feta salad with basil and rocket leaves

“For this recipe I insist that you use tinned lentils,” Vince says in the book. “They have a specific taste, and that’s the taste I want here.”

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tin (420g) brown lentils, washed thoroughly and drained; 30ml (2 Tbsp) good vinegar; 45ml (3 Tbsp) olive oil plus extra to fry the aubergine; 30ml (2 Tbsp) parsley, finely chopped (you can also replace the parsley with finely chopped mint for a Middle Eastern taste); salt and freshly-ground black pepper; 300g aubergine, cut into 1cm cubes; 10 cherry tomatoes, halved; 1 onion, finely chopped; 5ml (1 tsp) ground cumin; 1 clove garlic, crushed with a bit of coarse salt; 1 packet basil, washed; 1 packet rocket leaves, washed; 50g feta (or more to taste)

Method

Place the lentils in a bowl and stir in the vinegar, 45ml (3 Tbsp) olive oil, finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Keep aside.

Heat some more olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and stir-fry the aubergine cubes for 5 minutes until half done. Add the onion, garlic and cumin and saute for another 5 minutes or until everything is done and flavoursome. Stir the aubergine and tomatoes into the lentils. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Place the basil and rocket leaves in a salad bowl. Spoon the lentil and aubergine mixture on top. Finally crumb the feta over.

The Global Table Verdict

This recipe was a hit and I will definitely make it again; Salvelio also loved the fresh flavours and the salad was equally delicious the next day.

I followed the recipe to the letter except that I didn’t bother to wash the lentils – I can’t imagine this would have made any real difference to the look and taste of the dish.

Also, I went for half parsley and half mint, just to add to the flavours.

The vinegar I used was sweet white balsamic but an additional (small) squeeze of fresh lemon would probably add a pleasant zing.

Try this recipe if you enjoy unusual salads that are healthy and attractive-looking on the plate – this one could even double as a light lunch or a vegetarian meal if you’re stuck.

This recipe is a keeper for sure. I would say it serves three as a light lunch or six as a side salad. - Louise Liebenberg

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