Mozzarella and Heritage Tomato Salad with Fennel

I love the look of the heritage tomatoes I used here but to be honest they are a bit on the pricey side and whilst they look pretty, I’m not sure they taste a whole lot better than normal toms.  But as with all these things you don’t really know until you try and although I had tried them before a few years ago, I couldn’t remember whether they were worth it or not – this post is half a record for myself not to bother spending out on them in future!

I’m not sure on how to describe the process for the fennel – it’s not fish so I’m guessing it’s not quite ceviche, but you do need to go through that process to calm the flavour down a bit so it doesn’t over power the dish.  Maybe it’s a form of pickling?  I know that in some Middle Eastern dishes they put vinegar on raw onion to calm the flavour.

We were going to have this with feta but the mozzarella needed using up – I ended up with cow’s milk mozzarella as a substitute for the mozzarella di buffalo I had ordered and am sure this would have been way better with that as I find the cow’s milk stuff a bit bland.  The salami is not necessary for this dish at all – I just couldn’t be bothered to make another plate dirty!

I used frozen basil as I didn’t have any fresh – my herb trug is not looking at all happy this year – another lockdown job I must get round to.  It used to be so pretty!  Those nasturtium leaves were really peppery in salads – much stronger than rocket and the seeds are fantastic pickled.

We had this served with my lovely creamy homemade coleslaw and some toasted mixed nuts and seeds.

 

Ingredients

2 fennel leaves

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 leaves of basil

4 heritage tomatoes – I had 1 x green, 1 x yellow, 1 x orange and 1 x strange shaped red!

2 balls of mozzarella

Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

Balsamic glaze

Slices of salami (or chorizo would work but neither are necessary)

Black pepper (and salt if you wish)

Method

  • Slice up the fennel leaves into thin strips, discarding the stalk on the top (you could freeze these to use in fish stock)
  • Put the sliced fennel in a small shallow dish and cover with the lemon juice and olive oil and toss then set aside
  • Roll the basil leaves together into a small cigar shape and slice finely
  • Scatter over a large plate
  • Thinly slice the tomatoes and orange them over the plate
  • Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and grind some pepper over the top
  • Tear or slice the mozzarella (I started tearing then realised that I had cow’s milk cheese which slices better for the second ball!) and arrange that with the tomatoes
  • Drizzle over a little more of the olive oil and then do the same with the balsamic glaze (or balsamic vinegar if you don’t have glaze)
  • Arrange the slices of salami on top 
  • Drain the fennel and scatter over the salad before serving.

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