Spring is being a bit coy in the Cape this year. When I look at the weather report I see the rest of SA is starting to flirt with pretty summer frocks. Not so much the case down south. I live in hope that I’ll be able to put a match to the ugly Uggs in the next week or two. In the meantime I’ll dream of warmer days by whipping up an interesting feta salad and opening a bottle of excellent rosé.

Watermelon and feta is a great summer salad combo, but for that we need to wait a while longer. What I can lay my hands on right now, are the sweetest of sweet last-of-winter oranges. I peel and slice them generously, then combine them with thinly shaved fennel (such an under-appreciated sexy little bulb), red onion, ink black teeny olives and micro herbs and leaves. But the real star of the show is the feta – Barrel-aged sheep and goat’s milk feta from Woolworths. The last time I ate feta this good was in Greece – which makes sense because that is where this cheese is imported from. Now before you all bombard me with angry ‘eat South African!’ messages, this is not an everyday feta. It’s a treat feta because it’s pricey. But man is it worth it. (And no, Woolies is not paying me a red cent. This is totally unsolicited feta gushing.)

All this salad asks for is a simple red wine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette with a generous grinding of marvelously perfumed pink peppercorns. That and of course that excellent rosé. Read on to discover the pink I picked to pair with this praying-for-summer salad.

All you need is…

3 oranges

1 small red onion, sliced as thinly as possible

1 large fennel bulb, sliced as thinly as possible (I use a mandolin)

10 black olives (or more, whatevs)

micro leaves and micro herbs

1 block Woolworths barrel-aged sheep and goat’s milk feta

4 radishes, finely sliced (I did not include this in my picture, but it’s a wonderful addition)

red wine vinaigrette (see tips, tricks and trivia lower down for making perfect vinaigrette)

To peel the oranges, don’t dig into the peel with your hands – you’re not at a picnic. You want to be a bit prettily cheffy and remove all pith, and for that you need to use a sharp knife. Once you have perfect orange orbs, slice them medium-thick. Arrange artfully with the rest of the ingredients, crumble over feta and drizzle with vinaigrette. So simple, and just a little bit sophisticated. Like simple things so often are.

serves

2

prep

15 min

cook

0 min

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tips, tricks and trivia

The secret to making good vinaigrette

The golden rule for making vinaigrette is a 2:1 ratio. That’s two parts of really good olive oil to one part of acid, whether it’s red wine vinegar, white whine vinegar or lemon. (I do prefer using softer, fruitier olive oil for dressings instead of peppery ones, which often have a bitter base note and overwhelm delicate salads.) A very generous pinch of salt and a good few grindings of pepper come next. Whisk to emulsify and that’s it, the most basic of basic vinaigrette.

• I adore adding a very generous spoon of Dijon mustard to my vinaigrette (and I only use Maille).

• For robust salads incorporating tomatoes I also often add a little bit of finely minced garlic. But not too much, raw garlic packs a punch. If you do add garlic, let the vinaigrette stand for at least half an hour so everything has time to infuse.

• And if I want a slightly more Asian flavour profile (for something like cabbage salad), I add a drop or two of sesame oil (very little mind, as it’s powerful) along with a generous squeeze of honey. Also consider adding a teeny knifepoint of grated fresh ginger. Taste and play. As long as your 2:1 ratio is right, it’s hard to go wrong.

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enjoy with

My rosé choice with this is Kleinood’s Tamboerskloof Katharien. This wine first made it onto my Richter scale quite a few years ago when it kicked dust in the face of other pretty pinks in a national rosé competition.
Made of 100% syrah (aka shiraz) grapes, it’s a delightful pale salmon pink in colour. Only the best quality grapes went into the making of the Tamboerskloof Katharien, with grapes sorted three times before going directly to press. This wine was left on the lees for four months before bottling and two yeast strains were used to add even more complexity and depth. One the nose you’ll find primary berries that evolve into watermelon, pomegranate and a hint of spice.

On the palate it’s refined, with a lovely mid-palate intensity especially, and a beautiful long finish. This is not a perky pink for getting tipsy by the pool. It’s a wine to savour, slowly, with excellent food.

Katharien

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