A simple Christmas-y starter or side dish

This is a really easy and quick dish to throw together, with wonderful Christmas-y colours. A bit of blitzing in the oven, followed by some fun assembly, and that’s it!

I tinkered with the recipe for Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Basil, My Way, from Nigellissima. I couldn’t find enough fresh basil so I opted for some good quality pesto instead, plus a few other small alterations.

The following amount serves 6 as a starter or side salad of sorts; feel free to adjust the quantities to suit, keeping in mind the 4 : 2 : 1 ratio of tomatoes : mozarella : pesto (by weight).

300 g cherry tomatoes
1-2 tbs vegetable oil
0.5 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
150 g mozarella (preferably buffalo)
75 g good quality pesto
1 tsp good quality vinegar
small handful of fresh basil

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Half the tomatoes. Place them cut-side up in the smallest dish you have that will accommodate them all snugly.
  3. Drizzle over the oil. Sprinkle over the herbs and seasonings.
  4. Roast for 20-25 min. Leave to cool (for up to 4 hours). DO NOT discard the juices in the dish!
  5. When ready to serve, drain the mozzarella and tear into smallish pieces. Arrange these on your serving dish(es).
  6. Dot the tomatoes around the cheese pieces.
  7. Thin out the pesto with the roasting dish juices and vinegar (plus more oil, if needed) to achieve a dressing consistency. Drizzle this over the cheese and tomatoes.
  8. Decorate with the fresh basil as desired.

Tricolour platter 1

This style of presentation is great for casual eating, a big platter where people help themselves. I like the simple and fresh Italian flavours, and I really like the Christmas-y look. Tomatoes are not out of season at Christmas time for us southern hemisphere residents, where this dish feels appropriate, and should please even the non-salad eaters.

Tricolour platter 2

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