Repost – Where Ottolenghi meets Bush Gourmet …

I’ve been busy opening a new food production and services company called SavannaBel – Bush Gourmet here in Livingstone, and my first customer happens to be The Elephant Café. 🙂 In celebration of this milestone, I am reposting a short piece I wrote a couple of years ago on how the seasonal garden produce and wild food inspire my recipe development. There will be much more of this sort of thing in the months ahead, which I look forward to sharing with you!

Yotam Ottolenghi‘s recipes, rooted in his Middle Eastern upbringing, have made me much bolder in the kitchen. As an originator of such unexpected yet sublime combinations of flavor, color and texture, I see him as the mythical shapeshifter of all that I harvest from my garden (and deep freeze, for that matter). When I head outside to pick my way through an entanglement of edibles to inspire a dish, it’s Ottolenghi I invariably channel … in mind, tastebuds, and spirit.

For a recent Sunday lunch it was no different: I needed to pull together some salads to complement a lamb tagine made with apricots and preserved lemon, which I was serving with an edible flower couscous. It was Ottolenghi territory, and the following is what I found in the garden to work with: Lima beans, watercress, haricots verts, yellow cherry tomatoes, green and yellow courgettes, chillies, lemons, spring onions, and lots of fresh herbs. In addition I had stored red onions, bags of pomegranate seeds in the freezer, and a batch of muchingachinga syrup I’d just made.

Teepees of Lima beans are a perennial feature in our garden.


Haricots Verts

Yellow cherry tomatoes.


Our chillies seem to be producing the year round, although summer is when they thrive.



Genovese basil.

Flat-leaf parsley.


Shelled and blanched Lima beans.

Muchingachinga fruit in the native trees surrounding our house.
Muchingachinga fruit.

The following salads were the result:

Bean, Watercress & Mixed Seed Salad – inspired by Ottolenghi’s Spring Salad

Yield: 8-10 servings


  • 4 cups fresh Lima beans
  • 3 cups fresh haricots verts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 large handfuls watercress, separated into sprigs and leaves
  • small handful spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli with most of the seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons mixed seeds, dry-roasted
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the haricot verts and blanche for five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bath of cold water. Blanche the Lima beans in the same boiling water for about two minutes. Drain and run under cold water for a minute or two. Discard the skins by pressing each Lima bean between your finger and thumb.
  2. Place all the beans and the watercress into a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, finally seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently, and serve as quickly as you can.


Bean, Watercress & Mixed Seed Salad.
Bean, Watercress & Mixed Seed Salad.

Tomato, Chargrilled Courgette & Roasted Lemon Salad with Muchingachinga Dressing – inspired by Ottolenghi’s Tomato & Roasted Lemon Salad 

Yield: 8-10 servings


  • 2 large lemons, halved lengthways, pips removed and thinly sliced widthways
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, to be used in parts
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • small handful sage leaves, finely shredded
  • 400 grams yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 400 grams green and yellow courgettes, sliced widthways
  • large handful flat-leafed parsley, roughly chopped
  • large handful mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • small handful Genovese basil, roughly chopped
  • small handful dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • seeds of 1 pomegranate, setting aside a small handful for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons muchingachinga syrup (or pomegranate molasses)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • salt and pepper to taste


Roasted lemons.
Roasted lemons.


  1. Preheat the oven to 170/325 degrees.
  2. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add the lemon slices and blanche for 2 minutes.
  3. Drain well and transfer to a mixing bowl. Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, as well as the salt, the sugar and the sage over the lemons, and gently mix together.
  4. Spread everything out evenly onto a parchment paper-line baking tray, place in the oven and roast until the lemons have dried out a little. Remove and set aside to cool.
  5. Heat a cast iron skillet over a high flame, or fire, and chargrill the courgettes until just cooked (they should still have a little crunch to them). Remove and set aside to cool.
  6. Whisk the muchingachinga syrup together with the remaining olive oil and the allspice.
  7. Mix the tomatoes and courgettes in a bowl with the herbs, red onion, and pomegranate seeds. Gently stir in the lemon slices and muchingachinga dressing, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, and garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds.


Tomato, Char-grilled Courgette & Roast Lemon Salad with Muchingachinga Dressing.
Tomato, Chargrilled Courgette & Roasted Lemon Salad with Muchingachinga Dressing.

Annabel Hughes Aston is a writer and an award-winning chef in Livingstone, Zambia. She is the creator of "bush gourmet" cuisine.


  • It all looks delicious – so fresh.

  • Your blogs are a feast for the eyes, can only imagine the real taste!

    • Much gratitude, Jan … how nice it is that most things grow here!

  • Oh my, once again awesome and inspiring gardening and recipes. I can’t wait to make the roasted lemons. Hey Annabel, not showing off, (okay maybe a bit) but a couple of years ago my sister Susie treated me to a meal at Ottolenghi’s in London. What a moment! We left the ordering up to the waiter, who turned out to be from Fourways in Johannesburg! He just knew what we would enjoy. I think Ottoleghi would be so thrilled at your food and will probably have to pull up his socks! Joking Yotam.

    • Thank you so much, Hellie … as always. All I can say is LUCKY YOU! That man is an inspiration … I’m dying to eat in one of his restaurants! Lots of love to you … xo

  • Hi Annabel. Just played catch-up and read your last three entries all of which are wonderful, as always. Your soil one made me smile and reminded me of my Dad and his scientific approach to and knowledge of soil. The guava one just made me homesick for Africa. One seldom sees guavas here although I’m sure I’d find them if I went to Tooting or Brixton markets. Two weeks ago in Barcelona I had the most delicious guava ice cream – more like a sorbet in fact, but it had a bit of cream. One mouthful and I was instantly back in Zim, ten years old, pulling guavas off the trees that grew wild and eating them, still warm from the sun. And your latest post – well, it just made me hungry! Fabulous stuff – thank you. ~ZZx

    • I love hearing from you, Zsa Zsa. Thank you for taking the time to peruse the blog. In the first post I wrote about guavas, I titled it Fruit from an African Childhood. It’s a fruit we all remember from when we were little … in my case, they were used by my older brothers as missiles … and what a mess they made when they hit you! xo

  • […] Sarah Raven. It was a pairing that surpassed even my expectations, which was complemented by a selection of salads fresh from the garden, and my homemade Ciabatta […]

  • I want to travel to Zambia now, just to eat your food!!

    • Haha! Well, come on down then, it’s lovely here! Thanks for your support and interest. All the best to you, Annabel


Write a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.