SUMMER is a time when you want to eat lighter, especially after the many over-indulgences of Christmas, the new year and holiday eating in general. Now that all that is behind us it’s time to start anew, pick up the old exercise routine again and cut back on the baddies – up to a point, of course!
The Mediterranean diet is a brilliant one to follow this time of year, not least because our South African summers are every bit as glorious as those in the Med. When you’re squeezing in a beach walk after work or chilling by the pool on the weekend, a sumptuous yet non-calorific Med-style meal using whatever produce is freely available is sure to hit the spot – and you really won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.
The reason for this is that many Mediterranean salad dishes, in particular, are so designed that they actually constitute a complete meal in their own right. One such dish is Salvelio’s green-bean and potato salad with red peppers, egg and anchovy – scroll down on The Global Table for the recipe!
Salvelio was taught how to make this dish by his late mother, Maria Rosa Gravosqui-Garcia, a Spaniard from the province of Salamanca who moved to Africa at the start of the 1960s with her new South African husband, Salvelio’s father, Fanie.
Their first years were spent in Zambia, then known as northern Rhodesia, followed by a move to South Africa when Salvelio was seven. But wherever they lived, Spanish and Mediterranean dishes remained a staple of the family’s diet, with most of the classic Mediterranean ingredients like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and brinjal freely available in sun-drenched Southern Africa, not to mention fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil to marry it all together.
This dish can be served on one large platter or else, if you enjoy serving tapas as in the Spanish tradition, you can dish up smallish individual portions on little plates and serve them alongside other tapa dishes.
Green-bean and potato salad with peppers, egg and anchovy
400g green beans or French beans, washed, topped and tailed; 4 potatoes, cut into blocks (not too small); 2 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced; 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips; 2 fat cloves of garlic, chopped; anchovies – about six (quantity depends on your preference); juice from about 1/2 a lemon; a few tablespoons of olive oil; salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste.
Snap the beans in half or in thirds and steam along with the potatoes in a vegetable steamer, until cooked (it’s fine if the beans still have a bit of crunch). Meanwhile, fry the garlic, peppers and onion in olive oil until done; again the peppers should still have a bit of crunch. Toss the beans and potatoes into the pan; give it a gentle stir without breaking up the potatoes too much. Now add the lemon juice to taste (must be fresh lemon juice – don’t cheat!). Drizzle a bit more olive oil over if needed. Add the chopped anchovy and season to taste, bearing in mind the anchovy will be quite salty, again mixing gently. Pile onto a salad platter and garnish with the egg slices.