Easy stellar side dishes for your next braai

The weather is still warm and sunny enough to enjoy a delicious braai outside and with the lockdown restrictions, many of us are doing this more often than before. These recipes from the Cooking from the Heart special braai edition (by Heleen Meyer) are easy to make and will likely become classics, and for an added bonus they have been given the heart-healthy stamp of approval. So set the fire, heat up those coals and get braaiing while the weather is on your side!

Veggie skewers

These skewers are delicious braaied over the coals.

Ingredients:

125g button mushrooms, halved
3 baby marrows, thickly sliced
200g baby tomatoes
1 green, yellow or red pepper, seeded and cut into large cubes
15 – 20 bay or fresh lemon or lime leaves (optional)
8 – 10 metal skewers or wooden kebab sticks, soaked in water for 30 minutes
¼ cup (60ml) olive or canola oil
3 tbsp. (45ml) lemon juice
1 tbsp. (15ml) finely grated lemon rind
2 tsp. (10ml) each chopped fresh thyme, origanum and parsley
1 clove of garlic, crushed black pepper to taste
½ tsp. (2.5ml) salt

Method:

  1. Place mushrooms in a shallow dish and cover with boiling water. Soak for 8 to 10 minutes to prevent the mushrooms from breaking apart when skewered. Drain well and pat dry.
  2. Thread mushrooms and veggies onto skewers or kebabs sticks, alternating the different veggies for a colourful end result. Add 1 or 2 bay, lemon or lime leaves in between veggies.
  3. Mix oil, lemon juice and rind, herbs and garlic together and season with pepper.
  4. Brush oil mixture onto skewers on all sides and marinate for 30 minutes. Season skewers with salt.
  5. Grill over medium to low coals or until the veggies are just cooked, but not too soft. Brush with more of the marinade, while braaiing, if necessary.
  6. The kebabs can be served with the pea and yoghurt dip, or cottage cheese dip. Serve with a protein-rich vegetarian dish for a balanced meal.

Tips

  1. Add pineapple to the skewers for a sweet flavour – it is delicious with pork or chicken.
  2. A pinch of cumin or paprika or a chopped chilli can be added to the oil mixture if preferred.
  3. For a different flavour, add 1 tbsp. (15ml) finely grated fresh ginger or add 1 tsp.
    (5ml) mild mustard to the oil mixture.

Colourful slaw with ginger and peanuts

Colourful coleslaw side dish with chicken
Colourful slaw with ginger and peanuts. Image supplied.

Dressing:

¼ cup (60ml) olive or canola oil
3 tbsp. (45ml) red grape or apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. (30ml) soy sauce
4 tsp. (20ml) finely grated fresh ginger
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped, or to taste (optional)
3 tbsp. (45ml) chopped fresh coriander or parsley
¼ cup (60ml) finely chopped unsalted peanuts lemon juice and black pepper to taste

Salad:

500 ml (2 cups) each shredded white and red cabbage (or more white)
1 large spinach leaf, shredded
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
¼ cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
1 medium pineapple, quartered and thinly sliced
1 celery stalk with the leaves, thinly sliced
½ red or green pepper, seeded, quartered and thinly sliced

Method:

  1. Dressing: Stir all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Salad: Mix all the slaw ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss well. Allow salad to stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving it. This will allow the salad to marinate.
  3. Serve slaw as a side dish at a braai.

Tips

  1. This dressing can be used as a marinade for fish, chicken, pork or veggies.
  2. Add toasted coconut to the dressing instead of the peanuts.
  3. Serve with steak or leftover braaied chicken in whole-wheat rolls or pitas.

Mealie meal and corn bake

Mealie meal and corn bake side dish
Mealie meal and corn bake. Image supplied.

Ingredients:

3 cups (750ml) coarse mealie meal
2 cups (500ml) water
1½ cups (375ml) low-fat milk
½ tsp (2.5ml) salt
¼ cup (60ml) olive or canola oil
1 x 410g tin cream style sweetcorn
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
3 tbsp. (45ml) chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup (60ml) coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1 corn on the cob, kernels cut from the cob or ½ cup (125ml) frozen whole kernel corn, rinsed

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the mealie meal, water, milk, salt, oil and sweetcorn in a large mixing bowl. Stir well so that no dry meal is visible.
  2. Lightly grease a 20 x 27 cm oven dish with oil and spoon mealie meal mixture into the dish.
  3. Arrange onion wedges on mealie meal. Mix parsley, cheese and corn and sprinkle evenly over onions.
  4. Bake for 1 hour or until the mealie meal is cooked through. Serve hot.

Tips:

  1. Serve with a barbecue sauce.
  2. Bake the mealie meal mixture without the onion and cheese mixture until cooked. Mix 1 x 410g tin onion and tomato mix with the parsley and onion wedges. Spoon onto cooked mealie meal bake, sprinkle with cheese and corn and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the tomato layer is heated through. Serve immediately.

“When preparing salads or side dishes, don’t drown them in salty sauces or heavy store-bought dressings. Rather make your own healthier condiments.”

Chocolate fondue

Chocolate fondue with fruit pieces to dip
Chocolate fondue. Image supplied.

Ingredients:

1 cup (250ml) low-fat milk
½ x 80g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tsp. (10 ml) sugar
1 tbsp. (15 ml) cornflour
1 tbsp. (15 ml) cocoa powder
¼ tsp. (1.25 ml) ground cinnamon or more to taste
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla essence
2 small fruit skewers per person, made with seasonal fruit, like apple, pear, papaya, citrus, banana or strawberries
12 – 18 marshmallows, toasted over the coals, if preferred
12 – 18 tennis or Marie biscuits to dip

Method:

  1. Place milk, chocolate and sugar in a small pot. Heat over low heat, while stirring all the time, to melt the chocolate and dissolve the sugar.
  2. Mix cornflour, cocoa and cinnamon with 2 tbsp. (30ml) water to form a smooth paste without lumps.
  3. Add some of the warm milk mixture to the paste and stir well. Stir back into the milk mixture in the pot.
  4. Stir continuously over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Spoon into a warm bowl.
  5. Dip fruit or some of the other suggested ingredients in the warm chocolate sauce.

Tips:

  1. The sauce will thicken as it cools down. Just stir in a tbsp. of boiling water to thin it down again.
  2. The chocolate sauce can also be served with ice cream. Only use 2 tsp. (10ml) cornflour and prepare as above. The recipe will then serve 8 to 10.

Tips for a healthier braai

  1. Choose proteins wisely by opting for lean meats, such as fish and skinless chicken breast instead of too much red meat. If you do opt for red meat, rather buy loin or tender cuts and remove any visible fat before cooking.
  2. Marinate or rub the meat with salt-free spices and lemon, which add amazing flavour and will reduce the need for salt, which heightens your risk of hypertension. Use chilli, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, thyme or rosemary for a lip-licking taste.
  3. Limit your meat intake (of any type) to 150g.
  4. Fill up your plate with grilled vegetables, salads and side dishes. The more colour you add, the better. In SA, we have a great selection of fruit throughout the year, so be sure to add these to the braai menu. Meat and veg sosaties (kebabs) are always a hit. Add red, green or yellow peppers, butternut, baby marrows, eggplant, mushrooms and onions to the skewer and brush with healthy oil before grilling.
  5. When preparing salads or side dishes, don’t drown them in salty sauces or heavy store-bought dressings. Rather make your own healthier condiments, which you can find in Cooking from the Heart.
  6. Opt for wholegrain breads, rolls or wraps, which provide additional fibre, instead of white carbs.
  7. Consider healthy toppings over ice cream, such as chocolate bananas or fruit salad. Grilled fruit is also delicious! The natural sugars caramelise in the high heat, which makes it extra sweet and flavourful.

The Cooking from the Heart initiative forms part of Pharma Dynamics’ overall wellness campaign to promote healthy eating among the South African public in a practical, affordable and tasty way. Go to www.cookingfromtheheart.co.za to download any of the 100+ heart-healthy recipes – free of charge!