Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Insalata Tricolore

It's such nice weather for a September morning, that it was a pleasure to do my new early morning 6k trot around Regent's Park.

In the last month or so, I have managed to keep up my 'three trots around Regent's Park per week' routine fairly well, and I am pleased to say that I have managed to shed a whopping 7.5 kilos. I am now half way to my target weight of 80kgs.

Of course, it's not all about exercise - I need to stay away from my hamburger obsession. I haven't totally managed it (McD's on the weekend - oops), but I am definitely doing better than usual. One way to keep eating well is to eat a lot of raw foods. Today's dish is a perfect example.

I have no idea  how many calories are in a ball of mozzarella, or in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and I don't care. If this dish is all I'm eating for a meal, then BRING ON THE CHEESE! Obviously, my lackadaisical attitude towards dairy consumption can't be all bad, or I would not have lost a few inches of tread from my spare tyre so effortlessly. So there.

The key to a good insalata tricolore, is to use lots of fresh basil - like a salad garnish rather than a herb - lots of good quality dried oregano to season the cheese, and lots of top quality peppery extra virgin olive oil. I also use a splash of red wine vinegar to cut the richness of the cheese and avocado, but this is strictly a personal preference.

Oh, and one last thing: I only use cheap mozzarella (not the hard or grated stuff, but the 'value' one in the plastic bag full of water). For some reason, a good quality buffala seems a bit to gooey and jelly-like for this recipe. Buffala is great in cooking, but when eaten raw in a salad, the firmer cheaper stuff compliments the other ingredients a little better.

Because I'm using cheap mozzarella in this dish - 44p per 125g ball - this recipe comes in at a fab £1.50 per serving. Great as a starter or lunch, or as a dinner with garlic bread if you're not feeling as wobbly as me.

Serves 2


1 large avocado, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 balls of mozzarella cheese, cut into 1cm slices
4 tomatoes, cut into 5mm slices
Large handful of fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Splash of red wine vinegar (optional)
Salt and black pepper

Arrange the avocado, mozzarella and tomatoes in to three strips down the centre of the plate to make the stripes of the Italian flag. Garnish with the basil leaves and sprinkle the oregano over the cheese and tomato. Sprinkle with the oil and vinegar, if using. Season liberally - the ingredients are deliciously bland and need heavy seasoning.

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