Nothing makes my heart smile more than watching a small, passionate producer grow into a national brand, and that’s what I have seen the Pesto Princess do – from a small table at food shows to shelves of supermarkets around the country. The Pesto Princess has become the Queen of Pesto.
Following on the success of their range of pesto sauces, Pesto Princess has spread her wings and created a second range of spice pastes and relishes for foodies who like it hot. Initially these were released only at food fairs and markets to gauge popularity. After keeping these lines under wraps for five years, HRH Kathleen decided that 2015 was the year to launch them into mainstream retail.
The wet spice pastes hail from North Africa and have exotic sounding names: Harissa (Ha-ree-sah) and Chermoula (Cher-moo-lah). The third product in this new range is called Chimichurri Sauce, inspired by traditional recipes from Argentina. The people of Argentina love to braai almost as much as South Africans, and Chimichurri (Chimmy-choery) is the go-to braai sauce served at an Asado, or traditional barbecue.
As a lover of all flavours Moroccan I know what a few spoons of Harissa can do to a dish. For instance, take your braai to a whole new level by marinating lamb loin chops in Harissa, lemon juice and chopped garlic for an hour or two – pure heaven. Harissa and chickpeas are a Moroccan marriage made in heaven cooked together; or a little Harissa stirred into your hummus will take it to another level.
Pesto Princess‘s fiery aromatic North Africa Harissa paste is made from a blend of Chilli and assorted spices. The orangey-red colour is credit to the base of red peppers and sundried tomatoes. Generous amounts of cumin, coriander, caraway and mint give the paste its wonderful spice and flavour. It has a really authentic taste. Harissa is fiery because of the chillies, but the heat calms down as it blends with the other ingredients in your dish and adds a depth of flavour. It is rather nice stirred into mayonnaise and spread onto a chicken or beef sandwich, and of course it is a must in most Moroccan tagines.
Another delicious Moroccan marinade is Chermoula, which loves to be in the company of fish and of course chicken. I have wonderful and fond memories of sitting on the wharf in the little harbour in Essaouira watching the little blue fishing boats come in with their catch of the day, choosing the fish and seafood we wanted cooked for our lunch and then sitting there waiting for it to arrive while we sipped large glasses of freshly squeezed orange and ruby grapefruit juice. When the fish arrived it was perfectly cooked and the turmeric in the Chermoula had turned the flesh of the fish a lovely delicate golden colour. Roasted cumin, turmeric, fresh herbs, garlic and lemon juice just give it extra zing.
These pastes are easy enough to make yourself if you have the time, but I think it is easier for you to just twist the cap off a bottle of our little Princess’s Chermoula and spread it onto and into everything, like cream cheese; or over roast potatoes, fish and chicken and even into a fish soup – the jar won’t last long.
HRH Kathleen is living proof that from a little acorn an oak tree grows. She serves as a reminder that great things may come from small beginnings.
Well done Kathleen. You make us proud; you are an inspiration.
In case you feel the need to make your own Harissa Paste, here is one recipe for you.
5 tbsp coriander seeds
8 tsp cumin seeds
5 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
20 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 red onion, roughly chopped
20 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 large red pepper, roughly chopped
100ml olive oil
2 tbls tomato paste
1 tsp salt
2 tbls lemon juice
Zest of 1 ripe lemon
Place the coriander, cumin, fennel and caraway seeds in a dry pan and roast until fragrant. This takes a few minutes and be mindful not to burn the spices.
Remove from the pan immediately and let it cool slightly. Now blend to a fine powder.
Place the remaining ingredients in a frying pan and cook, stirring until the onions have softened. Again, do not burn.
Now place into a blender with the spices and blend to a paste.
Place into a sterilized jar, cover with olive oil and use as needed. It should last for about 2-3 weeks in the fridge.