Food brings people together. They gather, talk, laugh, share stories and reminisce about great meals and occasions. Chef Zola Nene taps into that nostalgia with her latest book, Simply Seven Colours.


bright and tasty

Zola Nene is instantly recognisable: she has served as a TV chef on the morning television programme, Expresso, as well as a judge on both MasterChef South Africa (Season 4) and The Great South African Bakeoff.

Her warmth and easy-going effervescent nature draw people to her – and the tone and content of her latest cookbook, Simply Seven Colours is exactly the same. There’s no recipe too complicated or “cheffy” to deter the enthusiastic home cook from attempting it.

Both her previous books have won Gourmand World Cookbook awards so the odds are good that this might follow suit, based as it is on food nostalgia and the uniquely South African concept of seven colours.

The premise or concept is simple: readers can create their own seven colour menu by choosing recipes from different chapters – or colours. Green, yellow, orange, brown, white, red and the rainbow, they’re all there with a range of recipes to try.

The chapters appeal in their approachability – like What’s in a name?; Ukudla kwasekhaya; Sunday lunch; seven colours and several colours. Then there are the tones – Green; Orange; Yellow; White; Brown; Red; A Rainbow of Colours and the all important sweet treat for dessert, which falls under the heading of Afters.

Ultimately, the book is a taste of South Africa and a celebration of food nostalgia.

Spinach and mushroom
​​​​​​​phyllo tart

Serves 6–8

¼ cup olive oil, plus an additional 2 Tbsp for the mushrooms

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 garlic clove, chopped

250 g mushrooms, sliced

2 Tbsp Zola’s Feasts Flavourbomb Spice Mix

400 g spinach, rinsed and chopped

250 g cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 large eggs

4 sheets phyllo pastry


1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C.

2. Add ¼ cup of olive oil, the rosemary and garlic to a saucepan. Heat gently over low heat until the garlic begins to sizzle, then turn off the heat and set aside to infuse.

3. Heat a large pan, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté on high heat until they begin to brown around the edges. Add the Flavourbomb Spice Mix and sauté for a few seconds more to release the aroma of the spices.

4. Add the spinach to the pan and toss well until wilted, and any water from the leaves evaporates.

5. In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese and cheddar cheese, then season with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

6. To the cheese and egg mixture, add the spinach and mushroom mixture, and stir well to combine.

7. Brush each sheet of phyllo pastry with the garlic-and-rosemary infused olive oil, then stack them in a crisscross pattern.

8. Grease a 20 cm loose-bottom, round cake tin with the garlic-and-rosemary infused olive oil, then line with the stack of phyllo pastry sheets. Add the filling, pressing down to avoid air pockets.

9. Place the cake tin on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the filling is set with no jiggle. Leave to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.


To add colour, use multi-coloured rosa tomatoes, or half each of red and yellow cherry tomatoes.

Instead of yoghurt, use 500 g bought or homemade labneh.

Apricot and orange glazed snoek 

Serves 4–6

¼ cup apricot jam

Juice of 1 orange

Juice of ½ lemon

1 Tbsp grated ginger

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 snoek (± 700 g), butterflied


1. In a saucepan, combine the apricot jam, orange juice, lemon juice, ginger, garlic and butter. Simmer over medium heat until the butter is melted. Stir in the chopped parsley. Set aside half of the glaze to serve with the snoek.

2. Brush some of the remaining glaze onto the flesh of the snoek, then place it on a hinged braai grid. With the snoek flesh-side down, place the grid over medium coals for 6 minutes. Carefully turn over, then brush with more of the glaze while cooking for another 6 minutes. Alternatively, roast the snoek in the oven at 200 ºC for 20 minutes, basting with the glaze halfway through. Serve the remaining glaze on the side.

Milk tart spring rolls

2 cups milk

2 egg yolks

½ cup castor sugar

2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp corn flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

12 spring roll wrappers

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Oil, for frying 

For coating

¼ cup castor sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon


1. Heat the milk to scalding point (just before it starts to boil).

2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, castor sugar, flour and corn flour. Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Return the mixture to the pot and cook on medium heat until thickened, stirring continuously.

3. Stir in the vanilla extract and cinnamon. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave to cool completely.

4. Once the mixture has cooled, spoon it onto the spring roll wrappers and roll them into neat cigars. Brush the edges with egg white to seal.

5. Deep-fry in oil (5 cm is enough) until golden and crisp. Drain them of excess oil on paper towel, then toss in a mixture of castor sugar and cinnamon to coat. Serve immediately.


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