Just like many things in life, the best things are the unplanned ones and this recipe was concocted when a vegetarian friend was due for dinner but I'd been chained to my desk all day having one of those 'one thing after another' days. Half an hour before she was due, I poured a stiff gin and evaluated the contents of my fridge. I'm afraid I'm one of those cooks that resort to a cheese of some description whenever I cook for a veggie. That aside though, I always keep a selection of cheeses in the fridge (especially mozzarella, goats cheese and feta), they're cheap to pick up, last in the fridge for ages and you can create something simple and versatile very quickly. Having a stock of food like this in the fridge make meal planning a lot less stressful when time is low.
I keep all the vegetables raw in this dish and I always say if you don't like your vegetables raw you're buying them from the wrong place. If you have well grown vegetables you will need minimal dressing or cooking to enjoy their amazing and far from boring flavour. That said, if you would really prefer a little less rawness you can steam the peas and broad beans for a minute.
This recipe incorporates a lot of things I love about spring - buttery courgettes, nutritious broad beans, sweet fresh peas, some mint from the glut that grows this time of year and fresh mozzarella drizzled with rich Sussex rapeseed oil.
You can use any rapeseed oil but I would definitely suggest trying to pick up a bottle of this amazing Sussex Gold if you can - it really is the nicest oil I've tasted and I know I keep whittling on about rapeseed oil but really, ditch the olive oil and grab some - it's nicer and produced in this country.
The option is to top with a handful of pistachios which really is delicious but I omitted as I'm getting the crutch weight down! As always, double the recipe for twice the people. This makes a beautiful starter or BBQ accompaniment.
Recipe // Courgette and Mozzarella salad
- 1 ball mozzarella (the best quality the better, good quality mozzarella has a taste that lesser quality just doesn't deliver)
- 2 courgettes, grated
- 50g fresh, shelled garden peas
- 3 broad beans, shelled
- Handful of spinach, chopped roughly
- Handful of mint, chopped roughly
- For the dressing //
- 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Juice of half lemon
- Option // handful of pistachios to top
- In a bowl, mix together the courgettes, spinach, mint, peas and broad beans then divide on to your plates. Top with half of the mozzarella each and then drizzle the dressing on top - the mozzarella will absorb that beautiful golden rapeseed oil and it really is something of beauty!
Formally Emma Gutteridge