The green lever

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The UN has declared 2014 the year of family farming. We asked Wendy Croeser, Unilever's deploy chef, what this means and how it impacts on us.

Unilever (Supplied)

The UN has chosen to recognise the importance of the farmer – this is an effort to highlight the potential that family farmers have to respond to an ever-growing food crisis. Family farmers can assist in eradicating hunger, preserving natural resources and promoting sustainability.

So how can we get involved?

Choose something that you would find enjoyable. It could be starting a small herb garden or making up your own veggie planters, or even building a small chicken coop – imagine waking up to fresh eggs every day. Start small, and as you reap the rewards of your small steps, you will find that you will want to make your efforts bigger and better, and be more inspired.

What else could we do?

If you are unable to try your hand at growing your own veggies and herbs, challenge yourself to get to know who the local producers are in your area, and endeavour to support them.

If you have children, you can teach them how to plant and look after their own veggies – easy ones such as carrots, for example and then reward them or pay them for each carrot they harvest.

What is you 2014 message for cooks and foodies?

Fall in love with food this year – don’t let cooking overwhelm you. Try to support your local small foodie business, but also embrace the opportunity for online food shopping; this will give you more time to enjoy the preparation of your meals.

Challenge yourself and your family to eat five home-cooked meals every week and, if need be, allocate days to other family members so that you can have a break.

Layered summer salad

A bright and crunchy salad packed with flavour that would definitely impress your guests.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves: six to eight

Ingredients:

15ml sunflower oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 punnet button mushrooms, sliced

½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded 2 punnets assorted bean sprouts 1 sleeve celery, chopped

2 red peppers, finely diced

2 yellow peppers, finely diced 200g frozen peas, defrosted 200g frozen corn, defrosted 45ml Knorr Brown Onion soup 1 tub smooth cottage cheese

45ml Knorr Creamy 1000 Island Salad Dressing

250ml cheddar cheese, grated Freshly chopped chives for garnish

Method:

  • Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until soft, then add the mushrooms and fry for about 10 minutes until tender.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside. To assemble the salad, use a glass bowl so that you can see all the colourful layers.
  • Start with the shredded lettuce at the base of the glass bowl, then follow with bean sprouts, celery, red and yellow peppers, peas and corn.
  • Top with the sautéed onion and mushrooms, including any of the juices in the pan.
  • In a jug, mix together the Knorr Brown Onion soup, cottage cheese and Knorr Creamy 1000 Island Salad Dressing until smooth.
  • Spread this dressing over the top of the salad, top with grated cheddar cheese and sprinkle with chives.

Marinated mushroom, lentil and feta salad

A refreshing salad that can be prepared in advance

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 0 minutes

Serves: six to eight

Ingredients:

½ punnet (125g) button mushrooms, thinly sliced

100g baby marrows ribbons 1 x 410g tin lentils, drained

1 x 410g red kidney beans, drained

100g carrot ribbons

½ red pepper, finely diced

½ green pepper, finely diced

250ml Knorr Greek Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

½ bunch spring onions, sliced 250g cherry tomatoes

50g feta cheese, drained and crumbled

Method:

Mix all the ingredients together, except the tomatoes and feta cheese. Cover and allow to refrigerate for a minimum of six hours or overnight. Stir through the feta and cherry tomatoes, and serve.

Tangy chicken, grape and peacan salad

A wonderfully refreshing dinner option served with steamed baby potatoes.

The grapes add a delicious sweetness to the salad and the pecan nuts give it a good crunch

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 0 minutes

Serves: four

Ingredients:

Four boneless roast chicken breasts, diced one cup seedless red grapes, halved

½ cup roasted pecan nuts, roughly chopped

1 red onion, finely diced

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup Knorr Creamy Garlic & Herb Salad Dressing 30g rocket leaves

Method:

Dice the roast chicken breasts and place in a mixing bowl.

Add the grapes, pecan nuts, red onion, mayonnaise and Knorr Creamy Garlic & Herb Salad Dressing, and mix until well combined.

Stir through the rocket leaves, transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

This article forms part of a supplement paid for by Unilever. Contents and photographs were supplied and signed off by Unilever.

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