Sponsored: 3 recipes starring verjuice

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Sponsored: 3 recipes starring verjuice

Need some flavour inspiration? Add a dash of verjuice to your meals and take it up a notch instantly. Here are three recipes starring versatile verjuice – from prawn and asparagus salad to angelfish.

Verjuice, also known as verjus (meaning “green juice” in French), is pressed from green, unripened grapes. The process involves “dropping” unripe clusters of grapes from the vine and takes place midway through the growing process to concentrate energy to the remaining bunches that are destined for making wine. Gently pressed, half-ripened grapes yield a juice that is high in acid and low in sugar.

The acidity and subtle sweetness of verjuice complements the flavours of a variety of dishes including fish, chicken and meat. It is ideal for deglazing pans for a deliciously rich, reduced syrupy “jus”, which can be diluted with a little stock or water. It also adds flavour complexity to vinaigrettes, dressings, syrups, sauces, gravies and reductions and adds zest to mayos, marinades, pestos and preserves and is perfect for pickling juices for ceviche, onions and vegetables.

Verjuice has a special affinity with nut oils and combines particularly well with walnut and hazelnut oils and emulsifies superbly with groundnut and olive oils. It’s also delicious as a non-alcoholic cordial – simply dilute with still or sparkling water, or enjoy it neat as an apéritif over crushed ice or as a mixer for cocktails and sours. For more information, visit verjuice.co.za.


Angelfish with sauce verge

Verjuice has a tart, sweet and subtle flavour that combines beautifully with fruity olive oil and fresh herbs. This easy warm dressing is brimming with the flavours of the south of France, and it transforms delicate angelfish fillets (on the WWF-SASSI list of sustainable fish) into a delicious light summer treat. Superfresh herbs are essential, and don’t forget the coriander seeds, which add a surprising burst of flavour.

Serves 4

For the sauce vierge:

fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup

coriander seeds 1⁄2 t, lightly crushed

garlic 2 cloves, peeled and very finely chopped

large ripe tomatoes

boiling water, for skinning tomatoes

verjuice 1⁄2 cup

fresh dill or fennel tops 2 T finely chopped

fresh basil
 2 T finely sliced

fresh parsley
 2 T finely chopped

capers 3 T, drained

lemon juice a squeeze

 3 T

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

fresh angelfish fillets 4, bones removed

olive oil 
1 T

butter 1 T

wilted baby spinach, for serving

baby potatoes, cooked, for serving

1 First make the sauce. Warm the olive oil, coriander seeds and garlic in a frying pan – the oil should feel very warm, but nowhere near hot. Set aside to infuse for 10 minutes while you prepare the tomatoes.

2 Make a shallow cross at the stalk end of each tomato, cover with boiling water and allow to stand for 4 minutes, or until you see the skins wrinkling. Slip off the skins, remove the pulp and seeds, and cut the flesh into neat cubes.

3 Add the tomatoes, verjuice, herbs and capers to the frying pan containing the warm olive oil. Set aside.

4 To cook the fish, place the flour on a plate and season with salt and black pepper. Lightly coat the fish with flour on both sides and shake off the excess. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan and fry the fish for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until just cooked through. Place on four warmed plates.

5 Return the sauce to the heat, and warm it to just above blood temperature. Add a spritz of lemon juice, to taste.

6 Generously dress each fish fillet with sauce, and serve with wilted baby spinach leaves and boiled new potatoes.


Sponsored: 3 recipes starring verjuice
Chicken with roast onions, grapes and verjuice

The unusual but delicious combination of clean fruity flavours highlights the versatility of verjuice, which lends a pleasant sweet acidity to this rustic dish. It takes a little time to fry the chicken pieces and onions before they go into the oven, but it’s well worth the effort, because the sticky golden residue that forms on the bottom of the pan adds gorgeous flavour to the final dish.

Serves 4 to 6

small pickling onions
 20 (about 750 g)

oil 3 T

free-range chicken pieces (breasts, thighs & drumsticks) 12

bay leaves

fresh thyme 
6 small sprigs

garlic 3 cloves, peeled and crushed

1⁄2 cup

dry white wine 
1⁄2 cup

red grapes 1 bunch, stripped from their stems

green grapes 1 bunch, stripped from their stems

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

green salad, for serving

crusty bread, for serving

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cover the onions with boiling water and set aside for 15 minutes (this loosens their skins).

2 In the meantime, heat the oil in a large shallow pan and fry the chicken, in batches and skin-side down, over a medium-high heat until the skin is crisp and a beautiful golden brown. (Don’t turn the pieces over or let them cook through.) Set aside on a plate.

3 Cut each blanched onion in half lengthways, trim the tops and bottoms, and slip off the skins. Fry, cut side down, in the hot chicken fat left in the pan, for 3 minutes, or until nicely caramelised. Take care not to burn them. Carefully turn the onions over using tongs and fry for a further 3 minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.

4 Add the bay leaves, thyme and garlic to the pan and cook over a low heat for 1 minute, without allowing the garlic to brown.

5 Deglaze the pan with the verjuice and wine, stirring and scraping to loosen the golden sediment on the bottom of the pan. Tip any juices that have accumulated under the chicken into the pan. Simmer over a brisk heat for 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol.

6 Arrange the chicken pieces and onions in a roasting tray, and tuck in the grapes. Pour the hot wine/verjuice mixture around the chicken, and scatter over the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Season to taste.

7 Bake for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the grapes are beginning to collapse.

8 Serve immediately with a crisp green salad and crusty bread to mop up the juices.


Prawns and asparagus salad with verjuice dressing and mayo

Verjuice is wonderful for making salad dressings with a slightly sweet, subtle zing. Its gentle acidity makes it the perfect companion for ingredients with a delicate flavour, such as prawns. In this spring salad, a two-ingredient dressing and a clean-tasting home-made mayo make magic with ready-cooked prawns, asparagus, salad leaves and peppery baby radishes.

Serves 4

For the mayonnaise:

extra-large free-range egg yolks 2, at room temperature

flaky sea salt, to taste

Dijon mustard 
1 t

sunflower oil ¾ cup

extra-virgin olive oil ½ cup

 3 T

fresh lemon juice
 1 T

Tabasco 1 t (or more to taste)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the dressing, mix:

100 ml

extra-virgin olive oil 100 ml

asparagus tips
 350 g

mixed salad leaves

Woolworths ready-cooked peeled prawns 200 g

baby radishes 8, halved lengthways

1 To make the mayonnaise, place the egg yolks, salt and mustard into a bowl. Tuck a damp cloth under one side of the bowl to tilt it. Using an electric beater, whisk the yolks until creamy.

2 Mix the two oils in a small jug. Turn the beater to its highest speed. As you whisk the egg yolks with one hand, drizzle the oil onto the yolks, a few drops at a time, with the other. Continue whisking and drizzling over the oil, a little at a time, and within a few minutes you will stream until you have a thick, pale yellow ointment. (See cook’s note below.)

3 Stir in the verjuice, lemon juice and Tabasco and season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to use.

4 Blanch the asparagus tips in boiling salted water for 1–2 minutes, or until just tender-crisp. Drain, then plunge into a bowl of iced water to set the colour. Leave for 3 minutes, then pat dry using a clean towel.

5 Place the salad leaves on four plates and arrange the prawns, asparagus and radishes on top. Drizzle with the dressing (give it a good shake first) and serve with the mayonnaise and plenty of warm crusty bread.

Cook’s note: If your mayonnaise “splits” or does not thicken, start again with a clean bowl. Place a whole egg in the bowl, whisk till creamy, and very gradually drizzle over the split mixture, whisking continually, as above. In most cases the mixture will re-emulsify.

TASTE Article by: TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.

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