Monday, 7 September 2009

Meat-Free Monday - East Meets West

Last week, our veg box contained this little punnet of deliciousness - a selection of 8 interesting and unusual kinds of tomatoes.
I knew that tomatoes that pretty deserved some really kick-arse mozzarella. I meandered up to the cheese shop at lunch time and came away with a luscious ball of Laverstoke Park buffalo mozzarella. I think it is brilliant that Jody Scheckter has decided to use his retirement to develop organic farming in Britain. And even more brilliant that it means I can get (for the small sum of an arm and a leg) absolutely fresh, gorgeous British buffalo mozzarella.

But woman can't live on mozzarella alone. Especially when married to a man who really prefers warm meals at dinner time. So what to put on the other side of the plate? I decided to pull out a recipe that I pulled out of a Delicious magazine about 18 months ago, but never made - Soy Caramel Roasties.

I thought the unorthodox pairing of very Asian-flavoured hot vegetables and very European salad would work well. My theory was that you get butternut and aubergine in Europe, and you get fresh cheeses and tomato salads in Asia, so there was something of a common language for the flavours. I also thought that the dribble of balsamic that I was putting on the mozzarella would have the right sort of dark caramel flavours to tie the plate together. I was right. It was a brilliant combination!

I didn't have parsnips or carrots, so I just used butternut, sweet potato and aubergine. I also reduced the amount of sugar used to 2 heaped tablespoons, and added a sliced hot green chilli to the sauce. I left out the lime juice because I didn't want that sharpness to compete with the acid of the tomatoes or balsamic.

Unfortunately the tomatoes were a little disappointing. They didn't have the amount of tomato-y flavour I was hoping for, and there wasn't much variation in the flavour between the types. I think if they had been warm from the sun it would have been better. But from every other angle this meal worked really, really well. The creamy, curdy, stretchy cheese cut through the salty, sweet, spicy soy and had enough flavour of its own to stand up to the powerful Asian flavours. The sweetness of the roasted veg cuddled up to the fresh, juicy, slightly acid tomatoes. The various reds, oranges and golds all complemented each other. A very successful fusion.

12 comments:

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Such a healthy and tasty dinner! I love to mix and match cultures on the plate too.

kat said...

bummer about the tomatoes, you'd think ones as beautiful as those would have great flavor

Foodycat said...

Thanks Natashya!

Kat - It was so disappointing! I wanted every one to be essence of tomato.

HH said...

Sounds lovely FC, the mozerella sounds divine! I wouldn't have thought to combine those flavours but now you have I can see that it worked! Excellent!

The Cat's Mother said...

I love buffalo mozzarella.

I'm also fascinated at the idea of people milking sheep and buffalos. That is the Swiss dairy farmer heritage I suppose - cows & goats only.

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Shame to hear the tomatoes weren't up to scratch. I've always wanted to try one of those tiger stripes ones!

Also, I do think a woman could live on mozzarella alone...for a little bit at least :)

Foodycat said...

HH - it is a wonderful cheese!

Mother - Do you remember Joanne Weir telling us that we really didn't know what mozzarella was? She was right!

Laura - yeah, a couple of days at least.

The Cat's Mother said...

I don't remember Joanne saying that about mozarella. Definitely she talked about parmesan. True though.

We grew some of those green stripy tomatoes last summer. They were tasty.

Sam said...

Shame about the tomatoes, they look wonderful! Have you ever tried growing your own?

Foodycat said...

Mother - I'm sure there was something about fresh milk mozzarella and how if we think supermarket mozzarella is the same we're dreaming.

Sam - shhh! Last 2 years we've lost the whole crop to blight. This year we are hoping for at least a couple to ripen!

Debinhawaii said...

It looks like a beautiful dish. Too bad the tomatoes were not as good as they looked to be but the recipe sounds wonderful.

halfpint harpy said...

Ooooh, great save, FC!

So sorry about the tomatoes, but I did love reading about your flavour 'fix'—shall really enjoy trying this some time! At least I can get hold of buffalo mozzarella here!

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