Make Eating Your Greens Way More Inspiring
Zita Steyn is a holistic chef and graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. Originally from South Africa, she now resides in the UK with her family where she runs her website FoodFights, as well hosting health-focused workshops and consulting for businesses and schools. She teaches individuals about nutrition and how to incorporate healthy food into everyday life. Her philosophy is to empower people to take responsibility for their health, the environment and the welfare of animals, and to bring cooking and communal eating back to a daily routine.
Zita has released her second cookbook Good Better Green, which is now available in South Africa. The aim of the book is to encourage readers to incorporate more greens and other healthy ingredients into every day cooking.
Zita is a huge advocate of sustainable and ethical eating and in the book she encourages sourcing organic, minimally sprayed fruit and veggies that are locally and bio-dynamically grown.
If you think veggies are boring, think again! Forget bland, overcooked veggies, instead think vibrant colours, bags of flavour and plenty of nutritions vitamins and minerals. Good Better Green is full of smart tips and ideas to help make cooking greens and other veggies easier. The book starts off with detailed, but easy to understand information on green veggies, AKA ‘Green Champions’, as well as herbs and more. It includes recipes for literally all sorts of foods, from soups and salads, to savoury tarts and even desserts. Although the book is veggie-centric, and includes both vegetarian and vegan recipes, it is not strictly so, there are fabulous ideas using other proteins such as lamb, fish and mutton. It’s a real gem of a book that you will go back and reference over and over again.
Chatting to Zita…
What is one of your favourite meals to make at home?
Ooh – this is such a hard one, because I change it up most of the time and am forever working on something new. But the two recipes from the book that I have made most often at home, are the Spinach and Sardine Dumplings on p.87 and the Lentil, Pak Choy and Mushroom Curry on p.103. And I will almost always add an interesting salad with a delicious dressing to the daily menu.
What is your best advice for someone who wants to start introducing more greens into their meals?
I advise my clients to make fresh herb pestos regularly and have these handy in the fridge (and freezer!) to add to mashed potatoes, fish dishes, spread on toast, and makes dips and dressings with. I would also suggest getting into the habit of adding finely shredded or chopped cooked greens to dishes such as mashed root vegetables or tubers, stews, soups, cooked grains and curries.
Originally from South Africa, what is your most memorable meal from the country?
Both my and my husband’s families are huge fans of spending time together around a good meal, so we usually end up with several cooks in the kitchen and a few around the braai. But many years ago, my in-laws invited me out for lunch at Reuben’s in Franschhoek. I still dream of the pan-fried line fish with a fresh, herby salsa that I ordered.
What was your most important and/or biggest lesson that you learned while inventing the recipes for Good Better Green?
People often latch onto a specific “superfood” and assume that because it is healthy or nutritious, they can, or indeed should, eat loads of it. But creating the recipes for Good Better Green reminded me of the wealth of produce at our disposal and that it is a whole lot more fun trying to incorporate different vegetables regularly than having kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Here are three fabulous recipes from Good Better Green, and scroll down to enter to win one of two copies we’re giving away!
The Love Salad
So-called because it’s perfect for a romantic, celebratory dinner, this salad is a satisfying meal and quite beautiful to look at. You do need to start on it the night before, though, as both the cheese and duck need some time. Omit the duck if you prefer a vegetarian salad. SERVES 4
2 duck breasts, skin on
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and bashed with the flat side of a large knife
2 rosemary sprigs
FOR THE SALAD
200g full-cream thick goat’s milk yoghurt
500g raw beetroot, peeled
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100g mixture of beetroot greens (finely shredded if not young and tender), radish greens and baby ruby chard
5 large red and/or purple radishes, very thinly sliced using a mandolin
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE DRESSING
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar (or crush a few raspberries and mix with1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon each of black and white poppy seeds (or black only, if white ishard to find)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Score the duck skin in a criss-cross pattern using a very sharp knife, being careful not to cut into the meat. Whisk the balsamic vinegar, honey, oil and lemon juice together in a bowl large enough to fit the duck snugly, then add the garlic and rosemary. Add the duck breasts to the marinade, coating them well, then marinate, skin side up, in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
For the salad, line a sieve with a few layers of muslin and scoop the yoghurt into the centre. Place the sieve in a bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to strain in the fridge overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F/Gas 3.
Cut the beetroot into thin slices, 2mm thick, using a mandolin, and reserve any off cuts in a small bowl. Toss the beetroot slices with the olive oil and a little salt, transfer to a baking tray and bake for 35–45 minutes, removing any slices that have browned sooner, as they will taste bitter if too dark. Set aside to cool and turn crisp.
While the beetroot is roasting, remove the duck breast from the marinade, reserving the marinade, pat them dry and place skin side down in a heavy, preferably cast-iron, frying pan. Cook over a low to medium heat for 10–12 minutes, until the skin is crisp and brown. Do not try to rush this step, as the low temperature will help render the fat in the skin. Turn the duck over and cook for a further 2 minutes, then remove from the pan.
Use kitchen paper to wipe the pan clean, turn the heat up to high, return the duck to the pan skin side up and pour in the reserved marinade. Simmer for less than a minute, to reduce the marinade, then remove the pan from the heat, cover and keep warm for at least 10 minutes. The residual heat will finish cooking the duck.
While the duck is resting, scoop the goat’s curd from the muslin-lined sieve and transfer to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir in just enough of the beetroot juice that will have collected in the bowl of offcuts to colour the cheese a lovely pink.
For the dressing, put all the ingredients in a glass jar, screw the lid on tightly and shake until the honey has dissolved. Put the greens, berries and radishes in a dish. Slice the duck breasts and add, along with the dressing, then toss to coat. Pile the beetroot slices on top and dollop the fresh curd to the side.
Broccoli and Beetroot Greens Pie
FOR THE PASTRY
225g wholemeal flour
Pinch of sea salt
Generous 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
100g cold, unsalted butter, diced
40–60ml ice-cold water
FOR THE FILLING
100g (a good handful) of fine green beans, trimmed
150g tenderstem broccoli (or regular broccoli, cut into smaller pieces)
200g tender beetroot greens, stalk finely chopped, leaves cut into bite-sized pieces
little butter, ghee or coconut oil
180ml sour cream
1ó teaspoons ras-el-hanout (see page 155 to make your own)
Extra virgin olive oil
Aged balsamic vinegar
200g Slow-roasted Cherry Tomatoes (page 154)
1 egg, lightly beaten, to glaze (optional)
For the pastry, put the flour, salt, turmeric and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Alternatively, you can do this by hand, by rubbing the butter into the dough with your fingertips. Pulse or stir in the cold water a little at a time until the dough comes together into a ball. Tip the dough onto a work surface and knead briefly until smooth; it shouldn’t be sticky or crumbly.
Shape the dough into a flat disc and roll it out to about 3mm between two sheets of baking parchment (the dough sheet can be either round or square-ish). Refrigerate until firm.
For the filling, steam the green beans and broccoli separately until just tender; be careful not to over-cook. Refresh under cold running water and set aside. Sauté the beetroot stalks in the butter, ghee or coconut oil with a pinch of salt until tender, 5–15 minutes, depending on thickness. Add a splash of water to speed along the process if you like. Add the leaves to the pan and cook until wilted, then tip the contents of the pan into a food processor and leave to cool completely. Remove the from dough from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
Add the sour cream, ras-el-hanout and a little salt to the cooled greens and process together.
Place the pastry, still on the baking parchment, on a large baking tray. Put the green beans in a double layer over the centre of the pastry, leaving a 5–8cm empty border all round. Drizzle the beans with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with a little salt.
Spread half the Slow-roasted Cherry Tomatoes on top of the beans, then spoon the beetroot greens on top evenly, and top with the rest of the tomatoes. Arrange the broccoli on top and garnish with a generous drizzle of oil and sprinkle of salt. Fold the edges of the pastry up and over the filling on all sides, pinching together in places to ensure the pastry doesn’t slide down; the filling should still be visible in the centre.
If you are using the egg wash, dip a brush in the beaten egg and lightly brush the pastry with it. Bake for 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crunchy. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Chinese Cabbage Kimchi
Please trust me when I say that this is simpler than it looks. Kimchi is chock-full of healthy gut-supportive probiotics and really quite delicious, adding spice and pizzazz to almost anything, from roast chicken or fish, to pancakes and polenta. The method of blending the apple with the spices is something I learnt from food preservationist extraordinaire, Michaela Hayes of Crock & Jar. I have kept this version vegan, so replaced the traditional fish or shrimp sauce with kelp flakes. But do add some sauce if you like – it is more authentic that way.
MAKES 1 MEDIUM – LARGE JAR, BUT YOU WILL NEED A LARGE JAR FOR FERMENTATION
1 head (600–650g) of Chinese leaf (you could also use green, white or Savoy cabbage, although the end result will be slightly different)
65g unrefined coarse sea salt
6 garlic cloves
1cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 shallots (about 90g), roughly chopped
1 apple, cored and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tamari
Large pinch of kelp flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons water
1–5 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes), or regular dried
3 medium carrots (about 300g), peeled
and cut into matchsticks or thin rounds
5 spring onions, green and white parts, trimmed and cut into 5mm slices
150g radishes, trimmed and halved if large
Cut the cabbage lengthways into quarters and then across into 4–5cm strips. Put into a large bowl with the salt. Massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften (I usually wear kitchen gloves to do this), then add enough cold water, ideally filtered, to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top, weigh it down with a few cans and set aside to brine for 2–3 hours. Rinse the cabbage well under cold water to get rid of most of the saltiness and set aside to drain in a colander for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, process the garlic, ginger, shallots, apple, tamari, kelp flakes, if using, and water in a small food processor or using a stick blender, until you have a smooth paste. Mix in the gochugaru, using 1 tablespoon for a mild version and up to 5 for a spicy end result (I usually use 2 ½ ).
Mix the paste into the carrots, spring onions and radishes. Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and return it to the bowl along with the vegetables and paste. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon or gloved hands.
Pack the kimchi into a large jar that has ample room at the top to avoid any over/ow, pressing down firmly on it until the juices rise to cover the vegetables. On the first day, the liquid might not be quite enough to cover all the vegetables, but it should be by day 2 at the latest. Seal the jar with the lid.
Let the jar stand at room temperature for 2–5 days, checking and tasting it daily, always pressing the vegetables down under the liquid with a clean spoon. Remember to do this at least once a day, as you don’t want the gases to build up and the jar to explode. As soon as you like the taste, transfer to the fridge.
I prefer my kimchi when it is not overly fermented or “ripe”, so usually eat it within a few weeks of transferring it to the fridge, but it keeps well for several months if covered in brine and refrigerated.