Dressed to thrill

By Lauraine Jacobs In Recipes

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24th January, 2013 Leave a Comment
Salad dressing and vinaigrettes

From the top, classic French-style vinaigrette, orange and honey vinaigrette, flavours of Asia dressing, photo Elizabeth Clarkson/styling by Kate Arbuthnot

The thrill of the grill, with accompanying fire and smoke, is a highlight of many people’s backyards and decks, even though for most of us the summer holidays are now just a memory. I’m planning to make the most of the continuing warm weather with easy meals of barbecued meat accompanied by simple salads, using produce from the garden and nearby farm stands.

A thoughtfully arranged salad can be enhanced with a dressing full of lovely flavours and textures. There’s nothing worse than that first forkful of a tempting-looking salad attacking your taste buds with a hit of acidity that immediately puckers your mouth. The addition of a judicious pinch of sugar or drop of honey to a dressing will help stop this from happening.

If you’re heading to someone else’s barbecue and have promised to take a salad, don’t add the dressing before you leave home. By the time you’ve travelled, the leaves will be wilted and soggy. Instead, carry your dressing in a screw-top jar and add it at serving time.

Another tip is to remove all excess water after you’ve washed the salad leaves and before you add the dressing. Dressings will not stick to wet leaves, so buy a salad spinner, which does a terrific job of drying the leaves.

Alternatively, carefully lay all the washed leaves on a clean tea towel, cover with a second towel, roll the two up loosely and shake out the water.

Just as dressings enliven salads to serve alongside the barbecued meat, a tasty marinade will add extra flavour to traditional steaks and chops. Charred meat, however, is best avoided. First, lightly oil the grill, then preheat it before placing the food on it. Use the lowest setting as the cooking starts. Place the meat over the lowest flame, but keep a medium heat at the other end of the grill.

Do not turn the meat too often, and if you want those professional looking “grill stripes”, don’t move the meat for at least 7-10 minutes, then turn only once.

Don’t worry if your meat, fish or chicken seem to stick to the grill. Once it’s cooked on that side, the food will release itself. Always have a glass of water handy and if the marinade or oil flares up, a splash of water will douse the flames.

Once the food has been removed from the grill, a real blast of heat will burn off excess food and any oil still sticking to it.

Here are three of my favourite salad dressings, and three delicious marinades. Use this one for green salads, especially those with cucumber, lightly blanched beans, peas, courgettes, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach leaves, carrots or Asian greens.


  • 1 lime
  • a small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 100ml grapeseed oil
  • a small pinch of brown sugar

Finely grate the lime zest and squeeze the juice. Chop the coriander finely. Add all the ingredients to a screw-top jar and shake well. Use judiciously. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Makes about 1 cup.

USE THIS DRESSING on any classic salad, especially leafy greens that have been washed and dried well. Dress the salad just before serving.


  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon-style mustard
  • pinch sugar
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Place the vinegar, mustard and sugar in a bowl or small jar and mix well so the mustard and sugar dissolve completely. Add the oil, salt and a generous grind of black pepper, then whisk or shake the ingredients until well combined. Store in the refrigerator in a screw-top jar.
Makes about 1/2 a cup.

THIS DRESSING goes particularly well with any salad that contains fruit, as the lack of vinegar and the sweetness of the orange and honey complement chunks of papaya, mango, pineapple, apple, pears, figs and peaches. It is superb with tomato and avocado salads.


  • 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 6 tbsp (100ml) avocado oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Finely grate the zest and squeeze the juice of the orange. Place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar, then shake well to combine. Store in a screw-top jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 1/2 a cup.

THIS IS AN excellent marinade for pork, chicken and all red meats, especially venison and beef. Do not cook meat with this marinade over a very hot flame or the high heat of a grill plate as the honey will quickly burn the surface of the meat.


  • 1 orange, finely grated zest and juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup runny honey
  • 3cm piece of root ginger
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil

Place the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Store in a screw-top jar in the refrigerator for up to a 2 weeks.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

THIS MARINADE is superb on fish, chicken and lamb.


  • 2 cups Greek-style unsweetened yoghurt
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 lemons, juice and finely grated zest

Place the yoghurt in a bowl. Put the saffron threads in a small cup, pour over 1 tablespoon of boiling water and leave the saffron to soak for at least 10 minutes. Add the onion to the yoghurt. Crush the garlic with the salt, then add to the yoghurt with the lemon zest and juice and the soaked saffron. Whisk well. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 2 cups.

MARINATE BEEF, LAMB and venison with this chimichurri. It can also be used as a sauce to pour over the cooked meat.


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped coriander
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Put all the ingredients into a screw-top jar and shake well. Store in the refrigerator and use within a few days, as the herbs tend to lose their green colour quickly.
Makes 2 cups.

Wild about meat

There’s interesting wild food to be had fromthe creatures that roam our bush-clad mountainous regions. Their tasty meat appeals to the hunting-fishing-outdoorsy nature of many Kiwis, and can be perfect for barbecuing or cooking over an open fire. Premium Game in Blenheim specialises in processing rabbits, hares, pigs, goats, venison and wallabies killed in the wild. Owners Allan Spencer and Brent Thompson, a hunter and a butcher respectively, have built a small and successful business supplying wild meat to restaurants and private customers.

After starting out in the early 90s as a factory to process animals shot from a helicopter for the export market, Premium Game now has about 40 licensed hunters and two or three full-time hobbyists who shoot to order. The meat is from poison-free properties and is carefully monitored by the Food Safety Authority’s meat inspectors. A wide variety of cuts can be bought to order, and much of the meat is cured, smoked and made into bacon and sausages. It is available at the Marlborough Farmers Market, from distributors around the country or directly from the company (www.game-meats.co.nz, ph 03 577 8200).

24th January, 2013 Leave a Comment

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