Quail with Butternut, Pearl Barley and Bocconcini Salad

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Go wild with this wonderfully easy-to-prepare starter or main dish that combines flavourful crunchy quail complimented by the nutty chew of pearl barley and creamy consistency of Bocconcini and butternut. Courtesy of chef Solly from Thornybush Main Lodge.

Yummy and healthy at the same time, this meal is a guilt-free way to spoil yourself come dinner or lunch time. Cook the pearl barley ahead by boiling 1 cup of barley with 2.5 cups of water until the moisture is absorbed and remember that the quail needs to be marinated well in advance.

Butternut, Pearl Barley & Bocconcini Salad


  • 2 whole Butternut, cubed
  • ½ cup Pearl barley, cooked
  • 200g Bocconcini cheese marinated in olive oil
  • 15ml Basil pesto
  • 200ml Extra virgin olive oil and extra for roasting the butternut
  • 50ml Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T Honey
  • 100g Baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh basil to garnish


  1. Toss the butternut in olive oil and roast for 25 to 30 minutes at 200° C, then turn down the heat to 180° C to roast the quail
  2. Arrange the butternut with the baby spinach, butternut, cooked pearl barley and Bocconcini cheese on a platter
  3. Make a vinaigrette by blending the basil pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper, drizzle over your arrangement and serve with the quail

Crispy Marinated Quail


  • 1kg Quail, cut open
  • 1 clove Garlic, crushed
  • 2 T Fresh rosemary, chopped
  • ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 30ml Good quality soya sauce
  • 15ml Maldon salt
  • Crushed black pepper


  1. Make a marinade by combining the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, soya sauce, salt and pepper
  2. Arrange the quail on a tray, drench with your marinade and refrigerate for 5 hours
  3. Heat a pan until smoking and grill the quail until crispy
  4. Finish off the quail by roasting at 180° C for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Enjoy hot or at room temperature.

About this dish

This tasty meal has a lot going for it in the ease of preparation, in its deliciousness and the nutrition stakes too.

  • Quail hovers somewhere between chicken and turkey on the flavour zone but is far more succulent than both of these birds, despite being much lower in fat.
  • Creamy, buttery Bocconcini just oozes with calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins A and B, and is a relatively low-fat cheese, with 6,7g of fat per 100g.
  • Honey, butternut, spinach and pearl barley add anti-oxidant properties and fibre as well as a long list of vitamins and minerals to the menu.

Serving suggestion

This dish is best enjoyed on a luxurious South African safari with a glass of white wine, surrounded by birdsong, bushveld vegetation and the promise of Big Five game sightings to come. Failing that, serve it up with guilt-free abandon in the company of friends and family in the welcoming embrace of your own home.


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Wednesday, 12 December 2018