Classic with a twist

Roasted bell peppers add the magic touch to this tomato-and-mozzarella salad

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We are blessed when it comes to the availability of fresh produce in Australia.

A visit to your local farmer’s market should be enough proof that this country takes its agricultural produce seriously. And when you have fresh and seasonal ingredients in your shopping bag, even the simplest recipes can turn out to be a dream for the tastebuds.

This salad recipe has been inspired from the book The Food & Wine Lover’s Guide to Melbourne and Surroundings.

Tomato Salad.IndianLink

As the name suggests, this book is indeed a food lover’s guide to Victoria, the beautiful scenic locations and the amazing food and wine experiences that this state has to offer. It also features a few recipes from chefs, restaurants and food producers of different regions. This salad really stood out to me because of the combination of flavours. Tomato and mozzarella is a classic combination but the addition of fire-roasted bell peppers, watercress and the mustard dressing takes it to a whole new level.

Fire roasting vegetables is not new to Indian cuisine; our much loved baingan bharta is the perfect example of it. The process lends a rustic, smoky flavour that is hard to replicate with any other method. You could either roast the vegetables over charcoal (which is ideal) but a simple gas burner can do the job in a pinch. Roast just enough to char the outsides so that the flesh inside still has a bite to it.

What I loved most about this dish is that it can be served as a salad or as a side dish to grilled fish, meat or perhaps some grilled paneer or tofu. It’s warm and so full of flavour that makes it a delight even during the colder months.

Since this salad is all about celebrating the freshness and quality of ingredients, make sure you use the best quality produce. And using different varieties of tomatoes makes it all the more delicious. If you have a local deli nearby, then that’s probably the best place to get your hands on the buffalo mozzarella instead of a supermarket aisle.

Enough said! Let’s get on with the recipe….

Ingredients

1 heirloom tomato, sliced

1 ox heart tomato, sliced

1 medium red bell pepper

1 medium yellow bell pepper

1 large mozzarella ball

½ cup picked watercress

1 tsp seeded mustard dressing

Olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt, to season

Freshly milled black pepper, to season

Method

Roast both the bell peppers over an open flame till nicely charred. Cover with a cloth for a few minutes before peeling off the skin (this makes the process easier). De-seed the bell peppers and slice into thin strips. Alternatively, oven roast the bell peppers and then do the same.

Cut the mozzarella ball into wedges and keep aside.

In a bowl, add the sliced bell peppers, mustard dressing and watercress.

Heat olive oil in a pan and flash fry the sliced tomatoes for a few seconds. Season with salt.

Cool slightly and add the tomatoes to the bell peppers along with the mozzarella wedges.

Season with salt and pepper, drizzle balsamic vinegar and toss lightly.

Serve immediately.