Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Marinated mozzarella salad and Roast pepper, watercress and Manchego salad

Mothering Sunday, or 'Mam's day' as Clinton Cards referred to it in their Newcastle stores, is a nice excuse to cook something for my mum who cooks for everyone else all of the rest of the time. It was a tough brief; healthy, but not too little food for the father, quick to prepare, the sister had to go to work, but tasty and impressive... I decided on a free range roast corn fed chicken with some loose crushed garlic thrown inside, some new potatoes, and two lovely salads from the Ottolenghi book that I hadn't made before. It was a lovely sunny day, with occasional torrential rain, otherwise I think it could have been nice enough to sit outside.

I forgot my mother's day card too, so was off to a good start...

The first of the salads was a marinated pepper, watercress and manchego salad.

Start by chopping 2 yellow and 2 red peppers into quarters, remove the seeds and stalks and put them in a baking tray. Splash a bit of olive oil and salt over them and put them in the oven for half an hour at 190°C. Give them a shake around once or twice and take them out when they are softened and a bit browning. Set them aside in a bowl covered with cling film, this will help their skins come off.

While they are cooking make the dressing. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a bowl, add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of water, the leaves of 3 sprigs of thyme, a thinly sliced clove of garlic and a teaspoon of muscovado sugar. Whisk it all up together.

When the peppers have cooled a bit peel away their skins and put them all in the dressing and leave to marinate. Leave them for at least an hour, or overnight if you can. I was a bit short on time so didn’t leave them quite long enough, it was still very tasty but I knew it could have been even better.

Scatter a bag of watercress into a big salad bowl. Chop a big handful of basil and a big handful of parsley and mix it through the watercress. Then finely slice some manchego or pecorino cheese in amongst the leaves. Scatter over a load of tiny capers and then place your peppers over the top, mixing them into the leaves a little. Finally pour over some of the dressing.

To go alongside this I made a marinated mozzarella salad with tomatoes.

Tear a ball of mozzarella into small pieces and put it in another big salad bowl. Shred a big handful of basil into thin slices, along with a small amount of sliced oregano and add to the bowl with the grated zest of one lemon. At the same time toast a teaspoon of fennel seeds in a dry pan for a few minutes until they start to brown, when they are done crush them in a pestle and mortar, and add to the mozzarella. Crush a small clove of garlic and chop it very finely and add this with a big glug of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix everything up and let the mozzarella sit for about 20 minutes.

Finally add some torn up cherry tomatoes, make sure you get ones that are as tasty as possible, if they smell of nothing they are likely to taste of nothing, so start sniffing them in the supermarket...

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Happy cooking! Let me know if you make any of my recipes, send a picture, and let me know any of your own recipes and tips! Anna x