I’ve got some surprising news for you: summer is on the way. Although it appears that Mother Nature is reluctant to accept the possibility of warmer days and long evenings, here in the kitchen we have been planning for the good weather for months.
We have noticed in the past week or so that people are changing to lighter menu choices in the same way that you would change in to your summer wardrobe. On our business lunch menu the bowls of freshly made salad are going down a storm. The ‘Roast Mediterranean vegetable salad with marinated mushrooms, Manchego, olive and basil’ has become a very popular carb free, vegetarian option and is one of a number of delicious and healthy salads available. Don’t think for a minute that we have forgotten you carnivores out there who may be more interested in the Far Eastern influenced ‘Hoi sin duck salad with rice noodles, cucumber, spring onion, marinated plums, white radish and coriander’. Gorgeous.

Featured on the summer suggested menu this year is a surprise hit from 2014. When we put ‘Chilli-roasted feta with watermelon and mizuno, balsamic pearl dressing’ on the lunch and dinner menu we thought of it as an interesting alternative that might be picked up as an unusual vegetarian option. However to our surprise and delight it featured as a first choice starter on many functions, particularly in the summer months.

How to make our refreshing ‘Chilli-roasted feta with watermelon & mizuno’ 

This dish is so easy to make and considering the odd combinations it is at once full of flavour and refreshing at the same time. Cut a piece of feta cheese a little bigger than a credit card and about 1 ½ cms thick, and then a piece of water melon exactly the same size. On top of the cheese sprinkle some chilli flakes and chopped spring onion and them put it under a grill until it has coloured slightly and the cheese is soft.

When the cheese is ready place it on the cold melon and dress around the plate with a good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Garnish with a spicy lettuce (we use mizuno but Roquette and watercress work just as well) and you are good to go. When you consider the warm saltiness of the cheese, the heat of the chilli, the cool refreshing sweetness of the melon and the sweet sharpness of the balsamic you would think that it should never work; you would be wrong.

We have even adapted the dish into a cold canapé option. The cheese is served cold and we top it with some pearls of balsamic and basil cress. This dish again is so easy to make and visually appealing. Why not try it out at a little soiree in the summer?

Stay tuned for more summer recipes

Keep your eye out over the next few weeks for a summer recipe from one of my chefs, Charlene Basan. Charlene has been responsible for Brasserie One at One Great George Street for a couple of years, and anyone who has eaten there will know the quality of her work. Perhaps Charlene’s South African heritage will feature in the dish? Watch this space.

Until next time!

All the best,

David Wilkinson

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