Sabrina Ghayour - is upgrading your kitchen worth the hassle?

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:40 09 September 2020

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham


Keep it simple. Good food on the plate, not the screen

Ever since I moving to Yorkshire I've had grand plans about refurbishing the house, extending my kitchen and building the cooking and dining space of my dreams. A place with the space that I never had, growing up in a small flat with a poky kitchen about as wide as me.

I pushed for the complicated and ultimately eye-wateringly expensive dream and it all came to a crushing halt when I saw the quote for works. I stopped, took a deep breath and binned my plans completely, favouring work to pay off the house instead of accumulating additional debt.

I'd convinced myself that I needed a sparkling new kitchen so I could start filming helpful cookery videos for my website to expand my online presence, inspired by those cooks with millions of followers. Then it occurred to me: I am not that girl. Never have been, never will be. That's the difference - I'm told people like my sometimes terrible, poorly lit pictures of food and total lack of skill when it comes to presentation. That they appreciate my unstyled, unfussy plates of food that are realistic to recreate.

So how did I manage to veer off my normal path and feel I needed to build a super-kitchen in order to please people? That's the thing with today's world; sometimes you realise you have strayed so far from the path of your own simple contentment that you don't catch yourself until it's too late.

Blackberry, Beetroot & Zaatar Goats Cheese SaladBlackberry, Beetroot & Zaatar Goats Cheese Salad

Thankfully I caught myself just in the nick of time and decided to look at simple and more affordable ways to enhance my existing kitchen. Nice tiles and a paint job on the perfectly good cabinets, job done!

I know I tend to be my own worst enemy when it comes to piling work onto myself. Better to slow down and keep things simple.

So, with simplicity and season in mind as we head towards Autumn, this flavour-packed blackberry, beetroot and za'atar goats' cheese salad has all the flavour, especially with that za'atar blend of wild thyme, oregano and marjoram, but none of the fuss. Nothing reminds me more of England than the gorgeous berries and autumnal fruits that we produce in abundance. 

Blackberry, Beetroot & Za'atar Goats' Cheese Salad

Nothing reminds me more of Yorkshire than all the gorgeous berries and autumnal fruit that we produce in abundance. I like to combine Middle Eastern ingredients with Western produce if the flavours work, and this combination does exactly that - sweet but tart blackberries with creamy soft goats' cheese balls dusted in my beloved herb mix, za'atar. This is now one of my favourite autumnal salads, and once you try it, you'll see why.

Serves 4-6


200g soft goats' cheese

2-3 tablespoons Za'atar Blend

150g mixed salad leaves

300g cooked beetroot (not in vinegar), quartered

250g blackberries (reserve 6 for the dressing)

freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

6 blackberries (reserved from the salad ingredients)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes

First make the dressing. In a small bowl or using a pestle and mortar, bash 6 of the blackberries until puréed, then add the vinegar, olive oil and salt and mix well. Set aside.

To prepare the salad, divide the goats' cheese into 12 equal-sized cubes and roll them into smooth balls. Lightly dust with the za'atar blend and roll in your palms to ensure the za'atar sticks to the surface. Set the balls on a plate and refrigerate until needed.

When you're ready to serve, select a large, wide board or platter and spread the salad leaves across it. Arrange the beetroot quarters and the blackberries around the board or plate, then season with pepper and drizzle over the dressing. Lastly, dot with the goats' cheese balls and serve immediately.

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