Cookbook Review and Recipes: Olami, Simple, Nourishing, Fresh

Following the success of the Sababa: Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Food cookbook, Cape Town-based co-author and deli owner Nirit Saban shares fresh recipes in her new cookbook Olami (Jacana Media), R330. The emphasis is on classic recipes with different combinations to create meals with flair and flavour that are perfect to share with friends. Test out these three recipes at your next dinner party – your friends will be back the following weekend! 





Baby leaf salad with fig, ricotta and honey chilli dressing

500 g fresh figs

400 g ricotta

150 g baby leaves

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced finely

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

4 teaspoons honey

Pinch of salt

Freshly ground pepper



Note

The baby leaves are quite delicate, therefore it’s ideal to plate this salad just before eating – it takes 2 minutes to do this. You can seriously adorn this salad with more elements if desired, such as toasted flaked almonds or cashews or spicy sesame seeds, but the beauty of this salad in its true essence is its subtle sweetness and creaminess on a bed of light leaves with a zingy dressing.

Method

In a large flat salad dish lay all the baby leaves loosely, then tear the figs into 3 parts and arrange loosely onto the baby leaves.

With a teaspoon or your fingers, take little lumps of the ricotta and add in between the figs and leaves.

In a small mixing bowl whisk together all the liquids, chilli, salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle generously over the figs, ricotta and baby leaves.



Chilli con carne

This is a slight twist to the classic dish using a cross between Mexican and Middle Eastern ingredients.

Chilli con carne

5 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 red chillies, cut into chunks

2 green chilli, cut into chunks

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon baharat/garam masala

500 g beef mince

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoon Mrs Ball’s Chutney

2 tins whole peeled tomatoes

2 tins red kidney beans

½ cup water

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Sweet corn salsa

4 sweet corn cobs, cooked and kernels shaved off the cob

2 carrots, diced

1 cup shredded green cabbage

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 teaspoon chopped coriander

1 teaspoon chopped dill

Juice of 1 lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper



Labneh with za’atar

250 ml tub labneh

Pinch of za’atar

Olive oil for drizzling

6–8 wraps of any kind or laffa/roti

200 g mixed baby leaves



Method

Make the chilli con carne first, warming the oil in a medium-size pot. Add the onion, garlic and chilli and sauté for 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then add the spices and the beef mince and cook for 5 minutes, breaking up the mince chunks into smaller pieces while cooking. Add the tomato paste and chutney and cook for a further 3 minutes. Finally add the whole peeled tomatoes and beans, water, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 30–45 minutes on a low heat.

In the meantime, prepare your salsa by simply placing all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mixing lightly. Dress your labneh with za’atar and olive oil. Warm the wraps over a grill pan for about 20 seconds on each side.

When dishing up, arrange all the elements individually and fill your wraps, starting with a dollop of labneh spread out on the base, then a handful of mixed baby leaves, then the chilli con carne, then the sweet corn salsa, another pinch of mixed baby leaves and lastly three dollops of the labneh.

Pistachio, cranberry and chocolate salami

200 g dark chocolate

1 tin condensed milk

¼ cup chopped roasted

macadamia nuts

½ cup chopped roasted pistachios

½ cup chopped cranberries

2 cups desiccated coconut



Method

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, then add the condensed milk, nuts, cranberries, coconut and mix lightly.

Line a 30 cm-long tray that has a height of at least 5cm with baking paper and spread the mix inside. Cover with cling wrap and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Cut 2x2 cm blocks and line plastic container with baking paper. Place the blocks inside and keep them in the freezer. Serve straight from frozen.