Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Ottolenghi's chargrilled asparagus, courgettes and manouri

The family in Cape Town is pretty much obsessed with the Ottolenghi recipe books. This salad as well as the chargrilled brocolli one are some of our favourites. Emma came for lunch at my - that's Sofia's - house when she came down from Edinburgh University for a bit of sunshine.

Serves 4-6

350g cherry tomatoes, halved
140ml olive oil
24 asparagus spears
2 courgettes
200g manouri cheese, sliced 2cm thick (we couldn't find any so we used shavings of parmesan)
25g rocket
coarse sea salt and black pepper

For the basil oil...
75ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
25g basil leaves
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Start with the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 170C. Mix the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with some salt and pepper. Spread them out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, skin side down. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes or until semi-dried. (I waited about 40 minutes using the convection oven). Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

2. Blanch asparagus for 4 minutes (or less if they are very skinny ones). Drain and leave to cool. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil and some salt and pepper.

3. Slice courgettes very thinly lengthwise, using a vegetable peeler. Mix with 1 tablespoon of the live oil and some salt and pepper.

4. Place a ridged griddle pan on high heat and leave for two minutes. Grill the courgettes and asparagus, turning them over after about a minute. You want to get nice char marks on all sides. Remove and leave to cool.

5. Fry the manouri cheese for 3 minutes or until golden. Place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. 

6. To make the basil oil, blitz all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Keep extra oil for future salads.

7. To assemble, arrange the rocket, vegetables and cheese in layers on a flat serving plate. Try to build the salad up whilst showing all the individual components. Drizzle with as much basil oil as you like and serve.

(Photo taken by Emma Bestall)

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