Summer in this little corner of Australia brings hot days and pool parties, late nights and tired children. It brings devoted tending of the veggie patch to sustain summer’s abundant growth, and balmy evenings spent cooking dinner over the barbeque, laughing and talking and fending off mozzies.
This warm salad uses gorgeous summer harvest veggies, and can be a meal in its own right, or a delicious side dish. I like to grill the veggies on the barbie, but you could make it in a char-grill pan too – it will just take you a bit longer as you’ll need to do it in a few batches.
1 lemon, juiced
Small bunch of basil, leaves removed
Few sprigs oregano, leaves removed
¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for char-grilling
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large eggplant or equivalent
2 red capsicum
1 large zucchini
250g cherry tomatoes
For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and half of the roughly chopped basil and oregano (you will need the rest for the salad). Season generously with sea salt and black pepper.
For the salad: Slice the eggplant and zucchini into 2.5mm slices, then cut into roughly 3cm pieces, and place on a tray to carry all your veggies to the barbeque.
Slice the flesh from the capsicum, removing the white pith, and cut into 3cm pieces. Add to the tray with the eggplant and zucchini.
Wash and drain the cherry tomatoes.
Heat a char-grill pan or the barbeque to a medium heat, and pre-heat the oven to 100°C.
Oil the pan or plate using the extra olive oil, and cook the all veggies until they are softened, with lightly blackened patches. Using a pastry brush, brush more oil over the veggies, if needed. If you are using a grill pan (or a small barbeque), you will need to cook the veggies in batches. I tend to do each type of vegetable on it’s own for even cooking, then place on a tray in the oven to keep warm, whilst cooking the rest.
Meanwhile, tear the bocconcini into rough chunks and place in a small bowl.
When the veggies are all done, place them into a large bowl, add the bocconcini and basil leaves and toss gently and quickly before placing on a serving platter. It’s important to work quickly and not over mix, as you don’t want the bocconcini melted through the veggies, or the basil leaves browned from the heat.
Spoon the dressing over the salad, and serve at once. If you are cooking it a little in advance, keep all the veggies warm on an oven tray, adding the bocconcini and herbs just before serving.