It’s been a glorious June day with the temperature in the mid-20s and the sun shining from a clear blue sky. My beautiful pale yellow rose is in full bloom in the garden, its Old English perfume a heady, glorious fragrance. Pots are filled with bright red geraniums and what a treat it was to eat supper in the garden this evening.
I’ve been working today but the bonus of being freelance and working from home is being able to take coffee or tea breaks in the garden, closing my eyes as I raise my face to the sun and feeling its warmth on me. I took a longer break in the afternoon to meet Lyndsey and the boys in Richmond. It was a special trip just to go to Gelateria Danieli for afternoon ice cream. Who wants English tea when Italian gelato is on offer, on a warm summer’s day! What flavour would you like? I asked 3-year-old Freddie. Chocolate!! (of course). Plus some strawberry sorbet. It was lovely to sit on Richmond Green with the family for a while. I also felt I’d done my ‘dessert’ before my main course, but hey, it’s summer!
There’s something about summer that calls for simplicity. And really, supper can’t get much more simple than grilling a few vegetables and serving them with a creamy buffalo mozzarella. I actually griddled them – being a keen ‘griddler’ – but you could use a grill or even barbecue them.
I used a fairly traditional mix of aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes, peppers and red onion. But feel free to go with your fancy or whatever is in your fridge or vegetable rack. Perhaps some fennel, or even radicchio (as I did with sea bream). I decided to roast the peppers as that’s my preference. Then I can easily slip the skins off and the taste is fabulous.
Grilled Vegetables with Buffalo Mozzarella – Serves 2
- selection of vegetables: e.g. 1 aubergine, 1 large courgette, 2 large tomatoes, 2 medium red onions
- 2 Romano red peppers
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 x 125g buffalo mozzarella
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- about 1-2 tablespoons fresh, chopped herbs – e.g. basil, mint, parsley
- balsamic vinegar
Carefully cut very thin slices off opposite sides of the aubergine and courgette. Then cut each lengthwise into 4 slices. Cut the tough stem out of the top of the tomatoes and cut each into 4 slices. Peel the red onions, cut a thin slice off two opposite ends and slice into 4 pieces.
Put the Romano peppers into a hot (220C/220 Fan/Gas 7) preheated oven. Put directly on a shelf with a tray underneath to catch any juices. Roast until you can see the skins start to blacken in a few places (about 15 minutes). Remove carefully (they’ll be very hot) and put straight into a medium-sized freezer bag and close up. Leave for 5-10 minutes. Then remove. They’ll still be hot, so take care. You should find that you can easily peel the skin off.
Slice down the middle and remove the seeds. Cut each pepper into quarters, lengthwise, and transfer to a large serving plate. I’d warmed a serving plate as I was going to eat straight away and wanted the vegetables slightly warm, but they’ll be as gorgeous at room temperature. Don’t serve from the fridge. If you’re making well ahead of serving, keep in the fridge, but remove in time for them to come back to room temperature.
While your peppers are roasting and cooling, start to grill/griddle the other vegetables. You’ll have to do it in batches. Brush each slice with extra virgin olive oil as you put it on the griddle, then brush the top, ready for turning over.
After 2-3 minutes, carefully lift the edge of the slices to see if they are cooked underneath. You should have nice, slightly charred, lines running across them. When they are ready, turn over to cook the other side.
Once cooked both sides, add to the plate with the peppers.
When all the vegetables are ready, open the mozzarella. Do try to find a nice, creamy buffalo variety.
I like to break the mozzarella into pieces rather than slice. Put in the middle of the grilled vegetables. Season it all with salt and pepper, then scatter over the chopped fresh herbs. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. All done and ready to eat!
I served this with a nice, crusty French baguette that I’d bought in Paul Bakery in Richmond this morning.
There was plenty for 2 portions. It was so delicious. I think grilling/griddling the vegetables brings out their best flavour. And the creamy mozzarella is a wonderful accompaniment, making it a complete meal.
A truly perfect summer supper!