James Mackenzie’s Tomato And Mozzarella Salad With Lovage Pesto And Spiced Gazpacho

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James Mackenzie adds an elegant flourish to a classic tricolore salad recipe, enhancing the simple combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and avocado with a fragrant lovage and pistachio pesto and a lightly spiced shot of chilled gazpacho.

The salad can be served as one large sharing dish if preferred, and the gazpacho makes an excellent sauce for fish and shellfish, or a refreshing summer starter on its own if made in larger quantities.

Ingredients
For the tomato salad:
6 large vine tomatoes
2 avocados, ripe
1 buffalo mozzarella
1 handful of micro salad leaves
nasturtium leaves, to garnish
edible flowers, to garnish
salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the marinated cherry tomatoes:
200g of cherry tomatoes, or cocktail tomatoes, halved
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 dash of rapeseed oil

For the lovage pesto:
1 bunch of fresh lovage
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp of pistachio nuts, shelled
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 pinch of salt
rapeseed oil

For the spiced gazpacho:
2 red peppers
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 stick of celery, strings removed and chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
200ml of tomato juice
50ml of rapeseed oil
50ml of white wine vinegar
1 dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 dash of lemon juice
1 tbsp of caster sugar
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
Place the cherry tomatoes in a bowl with the sugar, salt, vinegar and a drizzle of rapeseed oil. Mix together thoroughly, then leave at room temperature to marinate for at least an hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the spiced gazpacho. Roast the peppers in the hot oven for 20 minutes, turning occasionally until the skins are blistered and blackened all over.
Remove the peppers from the oven and place in a bowl, covering with cling film to allow them to steam. Leave for 10 minutes until cool enough to handle and peel off the blackened skins. Remove the seeds and roughly chop the flesh.
Transfer the roasted peppers to a blender along with the remaining gazpacho ingredients and blitz to a smooth consistency. Adjust the seasoning to taste and pass through a fine sieve into a jug. Cover and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
To make the pesto, tear a handful of the lovage and parsley leaves into smaller pieces and place into a clean blender. Add the pistachio nuts, garlic and a pinch of salt and start blending on a slow speed.
With the machine running, gradually pour in the rapeseed oil in a steady stream until the pesto resembles a thick paste (how much is needed will depend on the herbs used). Set aside until ready to serve.
Prepare the salad ingredients just before serving. Slice the large vine tomatoes, season the slices and lay on serving plates. Halve, peel and destone the avocados, then slice into even pieces and layer with the tomato slices.
Add a few of the marinated cherry tomato halves to the plate and tear over the mozzarella. Garnish with micro salad, nasturtium leaves and edible flowers and a drizzle of pesto. Serve with a shot of chilled gazpacho on the side, finished with an extra twist of black pepper.

Recipe courtesy of James Mackenzie for Great British Chefs. See here for more.

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