I chose to make this kale salad as the first recipe from Bertus Basson’s new cookbook ‘ Being Bertus Basson’ because I was lucky enough to taste it at his intimate launch in November. I happen to be someone that really loves kale (and spinach) and finding ways to prepare this quite tough and potentially bitter vegetable is always exciting. This recipe is so simple and plays around with raw and cooked textures and the spices pack a delicious punch. The residual heat from the sweet carmalised onions softens the shredded kale enough to take the raw edge off but still retain enough of a bite. It’s a keeper.

Being Bertus Basson cookbook by Bertus Basson

This is Bertus’s second book and takes the reader on a journey through all of his five eating establishments from award-winning Overture to De Vrije Burger & The Deck. It also has a chapter on his home and the vegetable garden he created with his wife Marelli that is a source of ingredients and inspiration for what they create there and in their restaurants. It’s also the chapter that this kale salad came from. The garden is their happy place where they can potter around with their son Theodore, their famous pet pig Spek and three dogs.

Reading and cooking from recipes by cooks & chefs that I admire is always enlightening and inspiring for me. You kind of get an insight into how their food mind works,  and tapping into that while cooking one of their dishes is a great joy.  

A few of the recipes from this book that I am crushing on and can’t wait to make are: 

From Overture: (which by the way has been totally refurbished and the deck covered for better temperature control across the seasons)

  • Slow cooked chicken 
  • Onion Bokkom broth (I love bokkom)
  • Cider braised pork

From Spice Route:

  • Chicken curry
  • lamb & boontjie bredie
  • The waffle 

From Spek & Bone

  • The steak tartare sandwich *inserts heart eyes emoji*
  • Spektacular yuzu dressing
  • shaved cauliflower

De Vreije Burger & The Deck

  • everything

Not only is ‘Being Bertus Basson’ a collection of inspiring and delicious recipes, but it’s also a feast for the eyes and has been beautifully crafted by a dream team of creatives. Bertus relayed his stories to multi-talented Russel Wasserfall who weaved the words very eloquently while retaining his voice. The images were shot by the incredible visual artist Claire Gunn and tell a story about the people and places as much as about the food. Roxanne Spears did a beautiful job of designing the book and her busy graphic design studio Good Design specialises in the food industry related work.  

Being Bertus Basson is published by Jacana and is available in all good bookstores in South Africa, at each of the Bertus Basson restaurants and online.

A delicious spicy kale salad

A delicious spicy kale salad

A delicious spicy kale salad

*Notes on the recipe – I made the recipe almost to the T but realized as I started that I didn’t have any cumin seeds so just subbed that with ½ teaspoon ground cumin. I found the ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper quite spicy (I’m a wimp) so I might drop that to ¼ of a teaspoon next time. I also added 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds because I love the crunch and flavour and scattered a few over the finished dish because I am a food stylist after all.

Recipe – serves 4 as a side salad

  • Splash of vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (use a ¼ if you are wanting it mild or for children)
  • 50ml balsamic vinegar
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 1 big bunch of kale, washed and very finely sliced

Heat a splash of oil in a medium frying pan and sauté the onions with the salt and sugar until soft and caramelized. Add the cayenne pepper, mustard, cumin and sesame seeds and stir until the spices are toasted.

Add the balsamic vinegar and olive oil and cook for about 1 minute. Just before serving toss the warm onion mixture through the shredded kale in large bowl. I found using a fork helped to distribute the onion evenly through the shredded kale


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