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Blackened Chilli with Buffalo Mozzarella, Cannellini Beans and Lemon Crème Fraîche


This month we welcome the incredible Hetty McKinnon of Arthur Street Kitchen to Tasty Tuesday!

Originally based in Surry Hills, Sydney, where her home-cooked salad lunches gathered a cult following, Hetty has since relocated with Brooklyn, NY with her family. She hasn’t stopped cooking!  With the recent launch of her second booking Neighbourhood, this month Hetty will be sharing some of her favourite new salads with us!

To start, Hetty shares her Blackened Chilli with Buffalo Mozzarella, Cannellini Beans and Lemon Crème Fraîche, a salad that pays homage to her chilli obsession.

Neighbourhood by Hetty McKinnon is now available from all good bookstores, and online here!

4th October, 2016
Hetty McKinnon
Tuesday 4th October 2016

For most of my life, I have been a competitive chilli eater. When I start, I can’t stop. I eat chilli until my eyes water and my insides burn, just to see how far I can go. But in my middle ages, I’m happy to say that I have developed a more mature sensibility towards chilli, respecting the flavour of the chilli, rather than just chasing the heat.

Most of us usually regard chilli as fire and spice. But in doing so, we are overlooking the fact that the humble chilli is actually a fully-fledged fruit from the capsicum family, and hence, offers many of the flavour qualities of other peppers. Discovered in the Americas and widely varying in heat, flavour and use all over the world, chilli has the power to unequivocally transform a dish.

This salad is all about celebrating the mellower side of chilli peppers. Charring the chilli renders them sweeter and piquant, a flavour reminiscent of roasted capsicums. The feisty chilli flesh is harmoniously counterbalanced by the creamy buffalo mozzarella and lemon-scented crème fraiche. Feel free to use any fresh white cheese such as bocconcini, fior di latte, burrata or even chunks of ricotta. Make sure you consume this salad (as almost always with salads) at room temperature!

This recipe is from Hetty’s new book ‘Neighbourhood’ (RRP $39.99) published by Plum and available now from good bookstores and online here.


Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

  • 5 long red chillies
  • 2 cups baby rocket leaves
  • 500g buffalo mozzarella
  • 4 roma tomatoes (about 500 g), finely sliced into rounds
  • 500g cooked cannellini beans (about 2 cans), drained
  • 1⁄2 cup basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 1⁄2 cup salted capers, rinsed
  • 1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • sea salt and black pepper

For the Lemon Crème Fraîche

  • 100g crème fraîche
  • Zest and juice of 1⁄2 lemon, plus extra juice if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper


  • Chillies: red or yellow capsicums
  • Buffalo mozzarella: bocconcini, fior di latte, burrata, ricotta


Start by blackening the chillies. I do this directly on the naked flame of a gas hob, but you can also place it under a hot grill or on a barbecue. Whichever cooking method you choose, you need to char the skin of the chilli until it’s all black and the flesh has softened. Turn the chillies often as the skin will blacken quite quickly. Leave to cool.

When cool enough to handle, wearing gloves, gently rub the blackened skin off the chillies under running water and dry with a paper towel. Cut each chilli in half and carefully scrape away and discard the seeds and membrane. Cut the chilli flesh into thin strips.

To make the lemon crème fraîche, stir the crème fraîche, lemon zest and juice and the olive oil together. Season to taste with salt and pepper and adjust the lemon juice according to your preference.

Scatter the rocket leaves over a large serving plate. Slice or tear the buffalo mozzarella and arrange on top of the rocket. Tuck the sliced tomatoes around the mozzarella and scatter over the cannellini beans, basil leaves, capers and chilli strips. Dollop the lemon crème fraîche over the top, drizzle over a little olive oil, squeeze over some lemon juice and sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and pepper to finish.

This recipe is from Hetty’s new book ‘Neighbourhood’ (RRP $39.99) published by Plum and available now from good bookstores and online here.  

Hetty McKinnon in her Brooklyn garden. Photo – Luisa Brimble.

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