OK, I understand
OK so this dish is so ridiculously simple, it really barely warrants recipe, and for this reason I very nearly omitted it from the menu this month. But the truth is, this is one of my absolute favourite weeknight staples - SO easy to whip up in a matter of minutes, and so full of flavour, it really is at the heart of what salad-making is all about in my house!
As we are now at the tail end of what has been an incredibly hot summer, it seems the perfect time to be eating as many tomatoes as you can get your hands on. My favourite local greengrocer is full of all kinds of varieties in a rainbow of colours, vibrant and sweeter than at any other time of year. And if you grow your own - well, even better.
To give this classic 'Insalata Caprese' a little more substance and crunch, I've taken to adding thinly sliced zucchini in amongst the tomato. Ever since we first ran naturopath Jacqueline Evans' raw zucchini recipe last year, I've really gotten a taste for raw zucchini! The trick, as with most raw veg preparation, is all in the slicing. If you plan to serve it raw, zucchini must be sliced ever-so-finely, with a mandolin if you have one.
For the Salad
1 zucchini (choose a small, firm one with shiny skin)
250g mixed tomatoes (I prefer smaller / cherry tomatoes - whatever looks good! )
1 buffalo mozzarella ball (In Melbourne go to La Latteria in Carlton for the best Buffalo Mozza!)
About 20 fresh basil leaves
For the Basil Oil
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 handful fresh basil
1 segment preserved lemon
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 fresh loaf of Ciabatta or other crusty white bread
This recipe serves 4 as a starter or side dish.
Rinse your preserved lemon wedge, peel the flesh away from the skin and discard flesh. Finely slice the preserved lemon rind.
Throw your preserved lemon, olive oil and washed / rinsed basil into a blender or food processor (or use a bar mix) and blend until combined. The basil should appear finely sliced but not entirely pureed, whilst the oil will have taken on a slightly more vibrant green colour. When combined, add a squeeze of lemon, plus salt and pepper to taste.
Slice zucchini very finely, using a mandolin if possible. Slice tomatoes finely too. Slice or tear your buffalo mozzarella into bite size chunks.
Slice your bread and brush with olive oil on both sides. If you have time, toast your bread on a ridged griddle over a hot stove, or on a BBQ hotplate. This smokey, charred toast is truly far superior to regular toast for this particular recipe! It is SO delicious with the juicy tomato and basil oil.
Layer all raw ingredients including fresh basil leaves onto shallow serving plate. Drizzle with the vibrant basil oil, and sprinkle with salt flakes and fresh pepper before serving.