Come the summer months I am always on the hunt for new salads, whether for a weekend BBQ or to liven up a quick mid-week dinner, especially as the annual New Year health kick kicks in & something other than lettuce & cucumber is required in order for my actions to get even close to all my good intentions. If you have a copy of Ottolenghi's Plenty you don't have to look very hard for inspiration. Alongside Moro & La Verdura it makes for my little trinity of salad & vegetable inspiration. I know you have heard me go on & on about this book, but really anyone who has it will likely tell you the same thing. Every time I pick this book up I find something new & exciting that I want to cook right away, the flavours are always so bright & vibrant & there is always a new & fresh flavour combination to try.
This salad jumped out & arrived on our Christmas day table. The bright red & yellow peppers alongside green spinach the perfectly festive looking salad for a Christmas feast. It is full of bright flavours & I'd definitely recommend some fresh bread on the side to mop up all the juices. Next time around I think I will also make a double batch of the peppers as they would liven up any salad or make for a tasty couscous salad.
Marinated Peppers & Pecorino Salad, adapted (barely as you don't need to mess with the master) from Ottolenghi's Plenty
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, quartered and cored
1 tbsp olive oil
For the marinade
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp water
½ tsp muscovado sugar (or other brown soft brown sugar)
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 sprigs of thyme
For the salad
Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves
Bunch basil leaves
Bunch baby spinach (the original recipe calls for watercress which would deliver a lovely peppery bite)
50g mature pecorino cheese, shaved
2 tbsp capers, drained
Pre heat your oven to 190C / 375F.
Place the peppers on a baking tray & drizzle with olive oil & toss to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt & place in the oven for 35 minutes or until softened & starting to colour. Remove from the oven & place the pepper in a bowl. Cover with clingfilm & leave them for 20 - 30 minutes. Peel off the skin, remove the seeds & cut the peppers in to wide strips & place them in a bowl. For the marinade whisk together all the ingredients except the thyme. Pour the marinade over the peppers & add the thyme. Leave the peppers to marinate for at room temperature for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge.
Just before you are ready to serve gently toss together the herbs, spinach & rocket & place them on a platter. Top with the peppers, pecorino & scatter over the capers. Drizzle with a little of the marinade, season to taste & serve immediately.
If you don't have pecorino feta or goat's cheese I am sure would be delicious, the fresh sharp cheese the perfect foil for the sweet peppers. I am also thinking that a sprinkling of crispy capers would be a most welcome addition.
The peppers are soft & sweet with just a little tang from the marinade, the herby salad a fresh, fragrant counterpart. The pecorino adds a little nutty buttery note & the capers a briny little pop. The perfect companion for a Summer BBQ.
If you like this Ottolenghi - A Sweet Winter Slaw
One year ago Fried Caprese Zucchini Blossoms
Two years ago Lemon & Tahini Salmon Salad