SoulFoood and Fun!
I tried out a range of dips from Soulfoood this past week and was happy to do so; it’s draining thinking up meals every day and making them yummy too. With new products in the pantry, its always easier to work out a menu. I am constantly on the lookout for artisan dips, condiments and dressings because commercial ones have never appealed to me, I can taste the preservatives and the after taste is almost rancid for me.
Here’s what I tried out:
Basil Pesto (350)
I enjoyed the definitive flavour of Parmesan the most. This pesto has a lovely kick, right out of the fridge, applied cold on warm pita, hot toast or oven warmed crackers, which melts the EVOO and the cheese, bringing out a very appetizing aroma. Initially I felt the bottle was a bit small for the price but since the pesto is well balanced, it is rich and you can’t really have a lot of it in one go! Very nice in pasta but I needed a whole bottle for a meal for two, I don’t add meats to pesto pastas, so I added a salad and some bread to make a whole meal. There is an extra tartiness which probably comes from the quality and amount of EVOO used. Since at home I don’t need to preserve it as long as a product like this is stored in stores, they may be using more; it is however very pleasant.
Portuguese Peri-Peri Sauce (300)
Lovely aroma, deep and rich. I liked the chunkiness, a sauce like this deserves a bite, I used it to spice up my Peperonata and it added a lovely bulk to the veggies when served as a topping on chicken or fish. It is not as strong as it smells, can be used uncooked too as a smidgen of a garnish over crostini and bruschetta toppings to add a punch. Peri Peri chillies are Portuguese in origin and despite the fact that South African Nando’s put it on the culinary map, I feel this product has more girth and just the right amount of pungency, much like the Nando’s ‘mild’ version, which over the years has tastes a bit artificial.
Green Chilli Vinaigrette Dressing (275)
This condiment is not chilli hot; more like jalapeno hot, making it more versatile in my opinion. I tried it as a marinade and the flavour stayed on the meat despite pan frying and serving topped with a sauce. I also used it in a salad dressing for milder greens like baby spinach, iceberg and regular lettuce, the taste was rich, not too pungent, yet distinctively green chilli. Very enjoyable. For marinating ½ kilo of boneless chicken, you will however, need almost half a bottle.
Recipe: SoulFoood Chilli flavoured Mushroom Chicken
- ½ kg boneless chicken, with grill cuts
- 2 tbsp Chilli Vinaigrette
Coat and set aside.
For the Pan:
- 8-10 mushrooms sliced
- 2-3 spring onions sliced
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1-2 glasses warm milk
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Oregano, salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan to garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a grill pan that fits all the chicken breasts, melt the butter in it.
- Sear the chicken with the marinade on, scrape and apply if you need to.
- Cook on high flame, 3-4 minutes on each side. Once you get the grill lines, lower the heat
- Add the spring onions and mushrooms, cover and pan fry for 3-4 minutes or till the pinkness inside the chicken is gone; you can pry open a piece and see. By now the mushrooms and onions would have released moisture and softened.
- Remove the cooked chicken breasts into a serving dish, cover to keep them moist.
- Add the flour to the spring onion and mushroom mix in the pan, sauté for few minutes to cook the flour through.
- Take off the heat and slowly add the milk, use a wooden spoon to break down any lumps, this is much like the process of white sauce except with veggies.
- Once you get a custard thick consistency, cook on the heat for few minutes.
- Season with oregano, salt and pepper, pour over the chicken, garnish with Parmesan and serve hot.
This dish has a lovely Indian green chilli ‘twang’ but is so rich and French!
Yoghurt and Dill Dip (200)
I personally love yoghurt dips. This particular one has a mousse like airy consistency and an intense flavour of Greek yoghurt, making the dill work very well with it. This spread tends to separate (whey and curd) when left standing in the fridge, so make sure you give it stir before you serve. This made for a great way to add a creamy texture to salad dressings, the way feta does, it was good for cold bruschetta starters and very pleasant as a dip. The tartness of yogurt is very much there so don’t expect a creamy dip like certain commercial ones; that’s not how yogurt works. I tried a marinade with this, added a dash of paprika and marinated large prawns in this dip for about 30 minutes and pan grilled them on high heat for just a minute or two on each side – they turned out pretty nice. I served them with a mint and coriander dip that goes very well with anything yoghurt based.
Smoked Salsa (275)
Though the smokiness wasn’t very apparent, I liked the chunkiness of the Salsa. It was fresh and tart with a nice balance of tanginess. For me Salsa is all about nachos but I have tried it as pizza sauce, especially if you are doing a seafood pizza. You will be surprised by the result. This one made for a great pizza sauce and was nice with fresh cut veggies like carrots and cucumber. For one thing, it tasted fresher than most bottled salsas even among the indie or artisan ones.
I enjoyed Soulfoood products and found them to be fresh and unique compared to run of the mill generic flavours as found in other bottled Pestos and Salsas. There is a lot you can do with them – salads, appetizers, dressings and marinades too. I plan to keep a stock of the Basil Pesto and Peri Peri for posterity. I also felt the price points were competitive especially since this is a product as close to fresh as possible.