I love serving this raw and roasted summer salad as a starter for an informal lunch or brunch as I did last summer when we were allowed to have friends over in the garden. The memory of that lunch basking in the warmth of the sun surrounded by friends reminded me of what I’ve missed so much in this past year. As my friend Sally put it, when you share good food with friends sometimes sh*t happens in the kitchen but there is always love around the table! And it’s the memories of the funny mishaps and warm connections made when preparing and sharing food with my friends that keeps me going until we can meet again around the table.
This combination of raw and roasted summer vegetables is more of a concept than a recipe. It all depends on what’s available in the veg market or your own garden. It started out with roasted eggplant dressed with a salsa of yellow peppers and cherry tomatoes scattered with feta or buffalo mozzarella. But I have also served it with roasted zucchini, red onions and tomatoes in season. If you can roast them on the barbecue all the better but oven roasting concentrates the flavors as well. As you can see in the pictures the varieties and colors change with what is available in the market or your garden.
I recently discovered balsamic sugar and have used it to roast winter tomatoes along with a bit of a flavored vinegar like citrus or blackberry. It gives them a bit of agrodolce that they don’t usually have out of season. I am also fond of using burrata in this raw and roasted summer salad because the texture is lovely and creamy but it doesn’t have the milkyness of mozzarella.
Raw and Roasted Summer Salad
- 3 medium aubergines
- 3 medium zucchinis cut into 1 1/2 cm rounds
- 300 grams tomatoes cut in quarters
- 1 red onion cut in quarters
- 1 tsp balsamic sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tbsp flavored vinegar (blackberry or citrus) or balsamic
- olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 yellow pepper cut into 1 cm dice
- 20 cherry tomatoes variety of colors, quartered
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 30 grams capers drained
- 150 grams burrata, buffalo mozzarella or feta cheese
- 1 handful coriander, tarragon, mint and/or fennel chopped
- olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Preheat the oven or gas grill to 190 C. If using a charcoal grill, once the coals are hot bank them to either side to use both direct and indirect heat as indicated for each of the vegetables. If your oven and grill are large enough you can cook the aubergine, zucchini and onions at the same time.
- Cut the aubergines into 2cm thick slices from top to bottom. Brush both sides generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Place them on a baking sheet or set on the indirect heat of the grill. Roast for 25-30 until soft and golden. Set aside to cool.
- Repeat for zucchinis and onions.
- Raise the oven temperature to 200 C. Sprinkle the tomatoes with sugar, salt & pepper, vinegar and oil. Place them on a baking sheet or set them on the grill over direct heat. Cook for about 20 minutes or until just beginning to char on the edges. Set aside to cool.
- Mix together the yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes, vinegar, capers and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set aside for at least 30 minutes (can be refrigerated for several days during which the flavors will deepen).
- Arrange the roasted vegetables slightly overlapping on a platter. Spoon the burrata or mozzarella in blobs scattered on top. Spread the yellow pepper salsa over and sprinkle the herb mixture on top. Taste and correct seasoning.