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There’s nothing wrong with going ‘traditional’ for your Christmas meal side dishes, but if that’s what you’ve always done, why not change things up a bit this year with fabulously fresh sides bursting with spice – dishes that can be served either warm or cold! 

Imagination is the only limit in coming up with inventive sides, so let your inner chef out this festive season and go a little bit mad. Whatever you decide on, simply bear in mind the cooking basics of texture and colour contrast and a balance of sweet, salty, peppery/ spicy and sour flavours. Why not make things extra exciting with a culinary world tour utilizing spices from various regions and cuisines around the globe. Think along the lines of:


#1 North African Pearl Barley Salad

With its nutty base notes, pearl barley is a super grain to use for a complex Moroccan-inspired salad. Combine the cooked pearl barley with a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and a generous dusting of Cape Herb & Spice Moroccan Exotic Spice mix. Then tumble in a selection of dried and fresh fruit, nuts and herbs. Think apricots, dates, toasted almond slivers, pomegranates, loads of chopped mint and parsley, torn figs and, to give it a salty balance, lovely crumbled feta. If pearl barley is not where you want to go, try bulghur wheat or cous cous for your Moroccan feast.

#2 Mediterranean Griddled Courgettes & Chickpeas

Griddle thinly sliced courgettes and combine them with tinned chickpeas and Cape Herb & Spice Mediterranean Roasts Rub Seasoning. Lots and lots of lemon, olive oil, lemon zest and parsley complete the picture. If you like it spicy, chopped deseeded red chilli is the answer. As an alternative to chickpeas, consider borlotti or cannellini beans.

#3 Caribbean Roasted Nectarines & Watercress

Drizzle firm, slightly under-ripe nectarine halves with olive oil, then give them a generous dusting of Cape Herb & Spice Caribbean Jerk Rub. Caramelize the nectarines in a hot griddle pan or, better yet, on the braai/ barbeque. Tumble peppery watercress onto a platter, top with the nectarines and tear over large chunks of soft fresh buffalo mozzarella. A simple vinaigrette of oil, red wine vinegar, wholegrain mustard and honey is all this asks for – plus of course a final sprinkling of the Jerk Rub.

#4 Asian Noodle Salad

Stir-fry finely julienned veggies like carrots and mangetout along with mung beans and Cape Herb & Spice Chinese 5 Spice. Tumble in cooked soba (buckwheat) noodles, add sliced spring onion and coriander for freshness and give it a squeeze of lime for a zingy burst. Serve it warm, at room temperature or cold.

Recipe concept & photography by Lizet Hartley.

Lizet Hartley is a freelance stills and reel food stylist, food photographer and recipe developer. In her spare time she – rather predictably – cooks. Get more of her recipes on her blog at