This simple quick Italian style salad is inspired by Gennaro, using easy to get hold of or grow ingredients and a plain olive oil dressing to allow the ingredients to sing. Big bowl sharing salads are an excellent way of presenting a meal and very versatile, whilst saving time. Our Tomato Mozzarella salad is a meal in itself, or great just with chunk of crusty bread. The bonus here is that this stunningly pretty dish is simple and easy and can be prepared in advance.
We have used a variety of tomatoes in this, including some of the heritage orange and yellow varieties as they give a colourful look as well as different flavours, but you can use any tomato as long as you have both cherry and standard sizes. Don’t worry about paying extra for “on the vine” tomatoes or “vine grown” either, as last time we checked all tomatoes grow on vines. Save your money and don’t fall for the marketing speak! In short, minimum 2 varieties of good quality ripe tomatoes at room temperature will work, but if you hunt around you can add more interest with the heritage varieties – or grow them yourself.
Variety is the spice of life. When you make this, you will find its never the same twice as you can use seasonal ingredients here, such as pea shoots, beetroot leaves etc. as they come up in your garden or supermarket. Like most of our recipes we want to make them playful and fun, so get creative and enjoy the “build”, making two layers of salad to get the mix all the way through. Fridge diving for a variety of leaves is very much encouraged, and if you are lucky enough to have some salad growing then do your own mix.
One last thing – you will notice we season the Tom’s separately. It’s a really key point. Salads have multiple ingredients, but we tend to forget about that and just chuck one seasoning on them all. Season each thing separately and you will get its true flavour.
Ingredients – Serves 4
Measurements are approx, as it’s a salad but these will give you about the right proportions.
500g Ripe tomatoes at room temperature, min 2 varieties e.g. Cherry and Salad
½ a red onion
2 handfuls of mixed small leaves e.g. spinach, pea shoots, “cut and come again” salad, lambs lettuce, radish leaves etc. Your choice but again you want minimum 2 different things.
1 x 150g (drained weight) Mozzarella ball, ripped into shreds
½ large cucumber, chopped into quarters and sliced thinly.
3 – 4 sprigs thyme, or 10 – 12 basil leaves (you can sub in dried herbs here)
10 – 12 stalks fresh chives OR 4 spring onions thinly sliced lengthways
Olive oil – preferably extra virgin
Coriander / Cilantro leaves, celery leaves.
Try a balsamic glaze drizzled over the top
Croutons (a great way of using stale bread).
1. Cut the larger tomatoes into quarters and the smaller ones in half. Season them with salt and pepper.
2. Thinly slice the red onion and break up
3. Now the herbs. Remove the leaves from the thyme and discard the stalks, then rough – chop the chives.
4. Grab yourself a nice big shallow bowl or plate and start the first layer with half of the salad leaves, then half the tomatoes sprinkled on the top. Then the mozzarella and finally the onion.
5. Next very lightly drizzle over with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle half of the chopped herbs. That’s your first layer done.
6. Repeat the process to use up the other half of the ingredients and set to one size for about 20 minutes before serving to let the seasonings pull out the flavours. If you are preparing this in advance and keeping it in the fridge, get it out about an hour before you need to serve it – it likes to be at room temperature.