Chantal Lascaris talks ‘all sorts of one dish wonders’

Chantal Lascaris is not a professional chef but embraces being a “messy cook”, which is what inspired her latest cookbook, “All Sorts of One-Dish Wonders.”

In her book, Lascaris proves that cooking in one pot can be “exciting and requires less effort”, leaving enough time to spend with family and friends.

She also demonstrates that one-dish meals aren’t just stews and curries.

The book covers a wide range of dishes from breakfast, sides, starters, salads to mains and desserts.

In a chat with Lascaris from her Franschhoek home, the author of the “All Sorts of One-Dish Wonders” says creating her own series of cookbooks “happened completely by accident”.

“I never intended to change careers and least of all change to food! I had my own business designing and making uniforms for hotels.

“I was travelling a huge amount to the Middle East and elsewhere and one day my husband said to me ‘you’re always grumpy’ – of course, I was horrified by what he’d said but then I thought about it and realised he was right!

“It was a highly stressful business, running a factory in the centre of Joburg and travelling as much as I did.”

While she was trying to figure out what to do after selling her business, her husband suggested that she start writing a cookbook.

“I was quite surprised by his suggestion as I wasn’t that interested in food. The kitchen was really only the place where the fridge was kept and the fridge held the milk I liked in my tea and that was it!”

She adds: “We’ve been going to the bush in Botswana for many years (entertaining clients etc) and the place we go to doesn’t have proper electricity and you have to take all your own provisions.

“This meant that I had to be quite inventive with my salads. So a book on salads seemed like a good place to start. I was surprised to find out that there were no South African written books dedicated to salads.

“I wrote a proposal to Penguin Random House and they decided to take a chance on me and ‘All Sorts of Salads’ was born.”

And that was the beginning of an adventure for Lascaris.

Five years on, Lascaris has three books under her belt: “All Sorts of Salads”, “All Sorts of Healthy Dishes” and, her latest offering, “All Sorts of One Dish Wonder.”

The trio has one thing in common, the health element.

When asked if this was deliberate, Lascaris explains: “I believe it’s important to ‘eat the rainbow’. What I mean by this is that we first eat with our eyes and then with our mouths.

So the dishes have to look appealing. There is also a health benefit to this because the different colours in food is due to their nutrients. So by eating colourful foods you’re getting in all the minerals and nutrients you need.”

On her three favourite meals from her book, she shares, “That’s a hard one to answer because I enjoy all of them for different reasons.”

“But I often serve my Better Butter Chicken to friends and family because I can make it in advance, which gives me more time to be with them.

“I also enjoy the Deluxe Mushroom and Avocado Pizza with truffle mayonnaise.

I use wholewheat wraps as a base so you’re still getting the feeling of eating pizza with what seem like exotic toppings but is actually really easy to make and relatively healthy.

I love the Drunken Kingklip with Fennel and Limoncello.

You don’t have to use kingklip, which can be a bit pricey. If you don’t have limoncello then I give a quick ‘cheat’s version’ too.”

“All Sort of One-Dish Wonder” is available at Loot for R192.

The e-book is also available online.