Tomato, fennel, red onion and mozzarella salad

“hot and uncomfortable”

It’s my catchphrase in summer, grumbled through a constant string of sniffing and sneezes.

Now, most people think it never gets hot enough in the Scottish capital for such complaining but as far as I’m concerned 20c is as hot as it ever needs to be; anything more and I’m just: hot and uncomfortable.

Having said that, thank god it’s finally stopped raining. We’ve had the wettest June on record followed by non-stop rain for July so far; my shoes are all damp and it’s still too damn hot to wear a jacket so I’m constantly getting soaked through.

So the sun finally came out today, it’s in the comfortable high teens and even I wanted a taste of summer. My local cheesemonger (some of my friends roll their eyes when I say things like that – I’m not ashamed and I highly recommend you find yourself one) has some amazing buffalo mozzarella (I once heard it compared to eating a cloud) and I wanted tomatoes.

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“Served up with a crisp glass of Italian wine”

Unfortunately She hates raw tomatoes, She is forever pulling them out of burgers (you’d think by now she would have realised she can ask for no tomatoes but it doesn’t seem to have occurred to her yet…) so I needed to do more than just good tomatoes and good cheese.

Marinated tomatoes it was then, with fennel, red onion, basil, garlic, chilli, heaps of seasoning, oil and vinegar.

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“Summer on a plate (board)”

Ingredients

* A selection of ripe tomatoes
* Bulb of fennel, finally sliced
* Red onion , finely sliced
* Clove of garlic, crushed
* Chilli, finally diced
* Bunch of basil
* The best mozzarella you can find
* Good oil
* Red wine or cider vinegar

Recipe

Chop about half the tomatoes (I used baby tomatoes for this part) and mix with the red onion, fennel, half the basil, chilli to taste (my chilli was so hot it made my eyes water cutting it so I used about half without the seeds but with others it might be the whole thing or even two) and crushed garlic.

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Season with what looks like far too much salt, black pepper (seriously the tomatoes will thank you for it), olive oil and good vinegar (I wanted red wine vinegar but couldn’t face a third trip to the shops so settled on cider vinegar). Leave to marinate for at least an hour but I left mine for about half a day.

I still wanted the freshness of raw tomatoes so sliced the other half of the tomatoes, laid them out on a plate with salt, pepper and some torn basil.

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“Fresh tomatoes with salt, pepper and basil – because that’s what I wanted”

Once the other tomatoes are finished marinating, layer them on top of the sliced tomatoes, top with torn mozzarella and garnish with the last of the basil, some diced chilli, salt and pepper. The layering looks good and also hides the raw tomatoes from fuss pots.

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“The finished dish”

It’s raining agin… but at least we had a small taste of summer for one day.

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“An aperitif made with homemade pineapple rum, lime juice, mint, sugar, black pepper and ginger beer – but that’s a story for another day”

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