We are well into week two of the Slow Food Eat Local Challenge and I’ve made some tasty new dishes with local produce. Two ingredients worth mentioning are the leafy greens from fresh beetroot and some spectacular striped brinjals.
Beetroot Greens Pesto
I bought some beetroot from Refiloe Molefe at the Bertrams Inner City Farm last week. Mama Refiloe is so incredibly passionate about what she does and will walk you through the farm as you pick the fresh produce you want.
I’ve bought fresh beetroot before and usually throw the greens, also known as tops, into the slow cooker for soup.
Now that winter has come to an end we’re a little soup’d out. I’ve been making pesto with sorrel from my garden so I decided to make pesto with the beetroot tops. Many of the leafy green tops from root vegetables are edible. Usually this get’s thrown away – what a waste!
The beetroot greens have a great flavor, not sweet nor bitter. I blended the leaves with some garlic, South African olive oil, black pepper, a bit of grated cheese and some other herbs from the garden (mint and tarragon). I didn’t add nuts because I wanted to keep all the ingredients local
I’ve been eating the pesto with everything, poached eggs, salad and even brown rice and dhal, it’s pretty tasty.
This middle-eastern creamy brinjal dip is not exactly a uniquely South African dish but brinjals do grow prolifically in South Africa so I think it can qualify for the #EatLocal challenge.
I bought some stunning striped brinjals from Connie Adonis, an informal trader I met at the Joburg Market. According to local heirloom seed company, Livingseeds, this brinjal it’s an old Spanish heirloom variety known as “Listada de Gandia.”
For the dip we started by braai-ing the brinjals on a low heat until they were soft and the skin outside was black and wrinkly.
Once it had cooled it was pretty easy to remove the skin of the brinjals. The flesh had the most delicious smoky flavor.
I blended the brinjal meat with some double thick yoghurt, S&P, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs from my garden (mint, parsley and tarragon). I left out the cumin and tahini (sesame paste) that usually goes in to this recipe in keeping with the #Eatlocal challenge which dictates that I only use local ingredients.
It might not be authentic but my local version was pretty delicious. I wish I could find more of these striped brinjals in the shops, if only our supermarkets celebrated diversity and uniqueness in fresh produce instead of only selling vegetables that are identical to each other.
The brinjal dip, like the pesto, is a great companion to salads, sandwiches and healthy snacks like carrot sticks.
I will definitely be making these two dishes again, especially when I have friends over.