Summer Treats with Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil Oil
Recipe, words & photography by Harriet Davidson
The flavours of summer; tomato, strawberry, cherry and basil. Tis the season, let’s eat the goods that are in season. Vibrant, light and bright, it’s food that feels good, it’s produce that sparks the joy, and it’s the kind of food I want to eat all summer long.
As this wild year winds up, I bring you one last dish that’s centred around the festive flavours of summer. It’s a bright and vibrant dish that’s greatly inspired by the bright, brilliant, and vibrant chefs of Fred’s restaurant in Paddington that I’ve had the pleasure and fortune of working with, and learning from, this year. I’ve learned an incredible amount, so hugely about approaching food with a sense of seasonality letting what the farms have to offer shine and dictate what we’re putting on our plates.
Learning the ins and outs of making a gorg basil oil has been a highlight of my time at Fred’s - the fragrance of basil as you pick the leaves, the bright, bright green colour of the oil, the intense flavours - so here I bring you a dish letting juicy red Ox heart tomatoes shine dressed with an intensely flavoured, basil oil balanced with the creaminess of Buffalo mozzarella. Take the time to forage gorg tomatoes, it will make all the difference - these beauties are from the new The Local Market grocer in Potts Point and Kurrawong Organics farm. I love the use of fruit in savoury dishes and the cherries and strawberries add a nice sweetness to the dish.
Pop it in the middle of your table and serve it with a lovely sourdough or focaccia for some serious mopping up action of the basil oil. Wind up the juicy factor with a lovely chilled red from Not Wasted and you’ve got yourself a very fun time. This, to me, is pure joy on a plate on many levels and so, with that, I hope this dish adds to delicious and divine festive seasons, celebrating what’s in season.
2 Ox heart tomatoes
200g mix of other beautiful tomatoes
2 tbsp capers
3 anchovy fillets
2 balls Buffalo mozzarella
50g creme fraiche
Basil leaves for garnishing
2 bunches basil, leaves picked
1 cup olive oil
For the basil oil, pick the leaves, removing any that are bruised as this will impact the beautiful vibrant green colour of the oil. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to the boil and salt with one tablespoon of salt. Fill a mixing bowl with ice and water to create an ice-bath for the leaves to be shocked into after you’ve blanched them. Once all leaves are picked, add them to the water for 10 to 20 seconds until just wilted. Remove from water and immediately plunge them into the ice-bath to cool. Leave in ice until thoroughly cooled before removing and squeezing out as much of the water from the leaves as you can. Place in blender with olive oil and blitz on high being careful not to let it heat up - blitz until well combined.
Strain basil oil through a fine sieve or muslin cloth, letting the oil drip through - pushing it through could also take away from the vibrant green colour.
Meanwhile, pit the cherries and cut the calyx of the strawberry off before cutting the strawberries in half. Add both the cherries and strawberries to a pan on a medium heat for a few minutes, along with the capers, letting the water cook out of the fruits. Let cool.
Slice the tomatoes into different sizes and shapes and season with salt and olive oil. Add in the cherries and strawberries with the chopped anchovy. Rip the Buffalo mozzarella in half and place in a bowl with crème fraîche to help loosen the mozzarella. Season with a pinch of salt.
To plate, place the mozzarella on the plate, arrange the tomatoes before spooning over the cherries and strawberries. Drizzle the lovely basil over and garnish with basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt and a good crack of black pepper to finish.
Enjoy with lovely bread to mop up the goodness.