Watermelon, feta, olive & basil salad – and a BBQ event!


People often ask me “so what is the difference between an English BBQ and a South African braai?” They both involve the cooking of meat outdoors over an open fire, and yes you can make an argument that the type of meat you cook is the distinguishing feature (because pork sausages and burgers will never feature at a proper South African braai!).  But I think the real distinction lies not in the menu but in the attitude.  A barbecue probably will be rescheduled if it rains – a braai probably will not. (My husband braaied in the snow one year in January.  Fact.) A barbecue will usually feature enough meat to feed all the invited guests.  A braai will feature enough meat to feed the entire postcode, plus some extra (just in case!).  A barbecue will probably involve a sensible number of guests so that there will be enough proper plates and cutlery for everybody.  A braai, on the other hand, expands to accept family, friends, kids, hangers-on, and possibly pets of invited guests. (At our Big South African Braai last weekend we had 21 adults and 3 kids.  Paper plates were in use, clearly.)

So what goes on at a Big South African Braai in London?  Come and have a peek how ours went down last weekend:

Firstly, there were people here, people there, people EVERYWHERE!








SABraaiCecilGroup4 Photo courtesy of my dear friend Cecil

There was a whole lotta hugging going on…






There was some GRINNING…




There was a lot of GRILLING… (Cecil’s famous lamb sosaties below!)





Photo courtesy of my dear friend Cecil

And then there was a whole lot of lip-smacking eating…



Can there be a better way to spend a summer afternoon?

Sadly, I can’t invite ALL of you over to my house for a braai, but I can invite you to join me in celebrating South Africa’s National Braai Day again this year with my annual braai/BBQ event Braai, the Beloved Country – please scroll down below the recipe to see how to enter! 

FOrever-Nigella-8 But… man cannot live by barbecued meat alone.  He shall also have… salads!  Last
weekend we served guests a big green salad; a spinach, roasted butternut squash, feta cheese and pine nut salad; and something I’ve been meaning to tackle for ages and ages: a watermelon and feta cheese salad.   When I initally heard of this salad, I thought it sounded like a totally ridiculous mishmash for the sake of novelty; but eventually it developed into an obsession – something I had to make. I first saw it as a recipe in Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer, which is why I am submitting it to Helen of Fuss Free Flavours who is the host this month’s pinic-themed Forever Nigella event, founded by the lovely Sarah of Maison Cupcake.  Nigella’s version calls for red onion (which I forgot to buy – eek!) and uses lime juice instead of vinegar in the dressing, but otherwise this is pretty faithful to her recipe.  Do suspend your disbelief and try it.  Many of my guests were slightly suspicious but were hooked after the first bite, and it was the first of the three salads to be polished off!  You’ll have to take my word for the fact that the combination of flavours and textures is quite heavenly – but you can see for yourselves how gorgeous it is :)


Other bloggers being creative with watermelon include:







Small ripe watermelon (1.5-2kg)
250g feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
200g pitted black olives, sliced
4.5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons raspberry vinegar (or other sweet fruity vinegar – not balsamic!)
Black pepper


Cut the watremelon flesh into bite-sized chunks (I removed most of the seeds but this is up to you).  In a large bowl, toss together the watermelon, feta, olives and basil.  Whisk together the oil and vinegar and pour over the salad just before serving, tossing to coat everything.  Add black pepper to taste.


And now, on to how you can enter Braai the Beloved Country! I would love for you to share your favourite braai or BBQ recipes with me – it can be meat, fish, vegetables, breads, stews – in fact anything that you can cook over an outdoor fire or grill, South African inspired or not.  Then on 24 September, I will post a round-up of all the recipes in a big celebration of summery outdoor cooking.  And as it’s an annual event, I will even let you submit favourite recipes you have posted previously in 2011 – as long as you repost them as a new post between now and the end of September 2011.


BTBL logo

So let’s fire up the grill and have a look at the rules:

1. Post a braai/barbecue recipe between now and 23 September.  Your choice of recipes is really broad – meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, breads – as long as you cooked it over coals or an outdoor grill.

2. You must link to this announcement in your post.

3.  Multiple recipes and recipes submitted to other events are permitted.

4.  Recipes from your 2011 archives can be accepted but you MUST re-post them in a new post dated between 22 August and 23 September 2011, and link to this announcement.

5.  Use of the Braai, the Beloved Country logo is optional but would be nice.  Ask me if you want code for a badge in your sidebar.

6.  A photo is preferred, but not essential.

7.  Send me an e-mail (emailcooksister AT gmail DOT com) with BRAAI in the subject line and containing: your name; your blog name; the recipe title; and the URL of the post that the recipe appeared in.  Attach a photo if you can.

I will post a roundup of all the recipes on 24 September to coincide with National Braai Day.

If you enjoyed reading this, please consider sharing it using the social media buttons below the post. I'd also love to hear what you thought about this post so please do leave a comment below. Hope to see you again soon!

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  1. says

    I really need some one to invite me to South African Braai. Please? Please? I’ll do the dishes after wards 😛 ha ha Thank you for enlightening me on the differences. Feta, olive, water melon – my all time favorite salad ingredients. But fruity vinegar? should try that!

  2. says

    I was writing about the difference between a braai and a barbecue the other day and completely missed those two major points – the weather factor and the amount of meat! I’ll be looking out my braai recipes to enter – got to support National Braai Day!

  3. says

    Cant wait for summer now looking at all this. Beautiful photos! I also developed an obsession and made my first watermelon salad last summer. This reminds me that I didnt blog it :) Yours looks absolutely fabulous and Im hungry….!! Cannot believe that its almost time for National Braai Day again….where has the time flown? And please do invite Kulsum to a lekker SA braai!! :) xxxx

  4. says

    I’ve always thought the combination of watermelon & feta sounded heavenly, yet I’ve never had this particular salad. Clearly time to remedy that particular situation – and what better time than National Braai Day!

  5. says

    Loved your post!
    I am going to get my wife to make this salad – it looks delicious!
    I am a Saffa who has married into a welsh family – have taught them how to cook outdoors on the braai and not burn the meat!
    Great blog!

  6. says

    Very interesting looking salad. At a braai we normally have either potato, carrot or greek salad. Saw an interesting discussion on the “WegSleep” Facebook page the other day. The question was, “Do you make vegetables when you camp?” Most people say that they mainly braai and do potjie when they camp, while one guy said that Beef and lamb are meat and chicken and pork are vegetables.

  7. says

    Yes – THATS what I call a braai, lots of people, lots of meat, salads, cold wine, cold beer….its not so much a barbeque – more a way of life!
    I am always amazed at how Nigella keeps getting credited for recipes that were around whilst she was still a journalist who never boiled an egg. I first had this salad in Plett at least 6-7 years ago, and a friend who was with me said she’d had it some time before that. It is delicious, but should not be made too long in advance as it has a tendency to become watery from the fruit.

  8. says

    The paper plates! Thank the Lord for them. Your braai looks like it was so much of fun – what a lovely garden you have. In london, nogal.What a cool idea re Braai the Beloved Country…now, we *still* need to get a new grill and we’re in business. The old one (read cheapie fake webber since husb left his real deal one in Holland), FLEW off the roof of a friend’s balcony in Sea Point. Said friend, did not replace. Thankfully. Now to get a real one.
    Love the salad- bet the olives add wonderful contrast of flavour.

  9. says

    Beautiful photos! I also developed an obsession and made my first watermelon salad last summer…Saw an interesting discussion on the “WegSleep” Facebook page the other day.. Thankfully. Now to get a real one.
    Love the salad- bet the olives add wonderful contrast of flavour.

  10. Delia Jordaan says

    I’m a new visitor to your blog so I am not really sure what is allowed and what not so excuse me if I am overstepping the line. In the spirit of interesting salads I would like to share with you a recipe that my sister gave me of an equally strange and suprisingly refresing salad a few summers ago and it is just as great with a braai. And really easy. Mix together 1 medium papaya (cubed), one punnet of strawberries (quatered), 100g feta (crumbed) and 60g chopped pistachios. For the dressing mix together 125ml sweet chilli sause and 15ml lemon juice and dress salad gently. Serve immediately and enjoy!

  11. says

    It looks like a great time…
    Well that’s typical for having a braai 😉
    The famous lamb sosaties look wonderful and I tried the WATERMELON, FETA CHEESE, BLACK OLIVE AND BASIL SALAD tonight.
    Wow it was delicious 😀

  12. says

    The first time I made that salad for people I got the same quizzical looks to start- and then everyone just kept eating it. Last time we even put a couple of the slices of watermelon on the bbq before adding- it made for some interesting textures.