Maverick Life


Homemade meals don’t have to be hard – Try Homemade Simple’s delicious dishes with a twist

Homemade meals don’t have to be hard – Try Homemade Simple’s delicious dishes with a twist
The Herb-Explosion Burgers, right, from Homemade Simple by Amanda Haas. (Images: Supplied)

Homemade Simple: Effortless Dishes for a Busy Life by veteran cookbook author Amanda Haas contains more than 100 simple, healthy recipes to feed everyone in your family – from the picky eater to the voracious omnivore.

Herb-Explosion Burgers

Nine times out of 10, I add just salt and pepper to ground beef when I’m making burgers. Why? Because when you buy good ingredients, they don’t need a lot of seasoning. However, when I want to add a little extra flavour without overpowering the meat, I use this recipe. The most important thing to remember when making a burger? Your meat must be well seasoned. If you’re not sure if you’re using the right amount of salt, cook off a tiny piece in a pan to see if you like the seasoning. If you think it needs more, you can then add more to the raw meat mixture before shaping it into patties.

Prep: 5 to 10 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

Serves 4 


455g (1 pound) beef mince (preferably 80/20 percent fat)

1 shallot, minced

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, basil, mint or tarragon

1 Tbsp capers, drained and finely chopped

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 slices cheddar or Havarti cheese (optional)

4 hamburger buns, regular or gluten-free, split

Your favourite condiments

4 thick slices ripe tomato

4 lettuce leaves


Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Brush the grill grate clean. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, shallot, herbs, capers, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Gently mix with your hands. Do not overwork the meat. Divide the mixture into four equal balls. Press into 12mm-thick  (½ inch) patties and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. (If not cooking immediately, cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.)

Using a metal spatula, transfer the patties to the grill and set over direct heat until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Top with cheese during the last minute of cooking, if desired. Transfer the patties to a plate to rest for 3 minutes. Toast the buns on the grill, cut sides down, while the burgers rest.

Build each burger with your favourite condiments, layering the patty, tomato, and lettuce on the bottom half of the bun. Add the burger top and serve immediately.

California Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing

While I was visiting a friend in LA 30 years ago, she insisted we go look for movie stars at this new, hip place called the Cheesecake Factory in Beverly Hills. I don’t know if I was more excited about the Chinese chicken salad I ate before my cheesecake or the fact we saw Brian Austin Green from 90210 sitting at the next table. The salad was beyond tasty but a far cry from healthy. With its crunchy wontons, sugary peanut dressing, and other sinful bites of goodness, it contains more than a day’s worth of recommended fat and sodium and over 60g of sugar. Over the years, I’ve developed a better-for-you option without losing the amazing crunch, silky dressing and delicious combination of cabbages, chicken and fresh herbs. The rice paper crisps are fun and a family favourite, but you can certainly skip them and rely on the peanuts for crunch. This makes a terrific vegetarian or vegan salad if you leave out the chicken.

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

Serves 4 to 6 


For the rice paper crisps:

Avocado oil, for frying

6 rice paper wrappers

For the chopped salad:

4 cups (280g) thinly sliced napa (Chinese) cabbage

2 cups (190g) thinly sliced red cabbage

2 cups (110g) chopped romaine lettuce

2 cups (390g) shredded cooked chicken (see note)

¼ cup (13g) fresh mint leaves, chopped

2 Tbsp fresh coriander

1 carrot, peeled and shredded

½ cup (75g) salted roasted peanuts

black sesame seeds, for garnish

Peanut Dressing (see below)

To make the crisps, in a large, heavy saucepan, heat 5cm of oil over high heat to 175°C (350°F) on a deep-frying thermometer.

Break the rice paper wrappers into shards 5–7.5cm (2–3 inches) wide. Using a wire skimmer, carefully lower a few of the shards into the oil, making sure they do not overlap. The rice paper will puff and crisp up immediately. Using the skimmer, transfer the shards to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining rice paper shards.

To assemble the salad, put all the salad ingredients except the dressing in a large bowl. Toss gently with half of the dressing, then add more until the leaves are well coated and there is no dressing at the bottom of the bowl. Serve in individual bowls with a pile of rice paper crisps on top, then drizzle a little more dressing over each serving and sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the top.

To store: Without the dressing and toppings, the salad can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 hours before serving. Simply dress the salad and add the toppings right before serving.

Peanut Dressing

Prep: 15 minutes

Makes 1¼– 1½ cups (300–360 ml)


½ cup (125g) creamy peanut butter

½ cup (120ml) fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)

¼ cup (50g) lightly packed coconut sugar or light brown sugar

3 green onions, including white and light green parts, cut into 2.5cm (1-inch) pieces

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger

⅓ cup (75ml) toasted sesame oil

kosher salt


In a blender, combine the peanut butter, lime juice, sugar, green onions, garlic and ginger. Puree until smooth. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. With the motor on low, slowly stream in the sesame oil, then add up to ½ cup (120ml) water to reach the desired consistency. Taste, then season with salt. DM

Homemade Simple: Effortless Dishes for a Busy Life by Amanda Haas is published by Cameron Books (R865). Visit The Reading List for South African book news – including recipes – daily.


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