Charred Cherry Tomato and Pepper Salad

This Charred Cherry Tomato and Pepper Salad is a great side any time of the year. Healthy and delicious – what’s not to like?

It is fantastic when cherry tomatoes are fresh from the garden and since it is warm it also makes a great salad or vegetable side when the weather is frosty.

I have to admit I have been envious when my friends would remark with a sigh how they were over run with cherry tomatoes from their planters and wondering what else they could do with them! Well…. this is a bit different than most salads.

The dressing is full of umami flavours. I think I will use the dressing on many different salads it is so good.

Fresh mozzarella, shredded so it holds on to that yummy dressing, adds substance. Fresh basil adds interest and the charred tomatoes and peppers lend a surprising depth of flavour.

Cherry tomatoes, red pepper, bocconcini and olive oil on a table.

I used a cast iron skillet, which I would recommend. You could also use a griddle on your stove top or BBQ grill basket on your BBQ.

You are going to sear the tomatoes over high heat and leave them undistrurbed until the skins start showing charred black spots. They should be soft but not mushy so watch them carefully while they are in the pan.

Then you will do the same with red pepper strips. Toss them together with the mozzarella and shredded fresh basil, then drizzle the dressing.

We served this beside a steak and it was a match made in heaven! I also can’t wait to serve it beside my favourite Eggplant Parmigiana!

Juicy steak on a plate with a side of charred cherry tomato salad.

You could also serve this as a light main along with some crusty bread. In that case I would double up on the peppers to add a bit of heft.

Credit for the recipe goes to Cook’s Country. I was watching an episode and thankfully it was recorded so I could go back and write down the ingredients after I became intrigued!

Wine Pairing for Charred Tomato and Pepper Salad

You could match this to the main protein you may be serving this with. So if you serve it with steak you can go for a big red like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec. If you serve it with Eggplant Parmigiana or with a pasta dish then think Italian and go with a Chianti or Barbera that will stand up to the brightness of the tomatoes. Same goes if you decide to serve it as the main for lunch.

Salad with charred cherry tomatoes, charred peppers, mozzarella and basil on a platter.

Charred Cherry Tomato and Pepper Salad

Charring the tomatoes and peppers lends amazing depth of flavour but it doesn't stop there. The dressing is full of umami flavours that complement the ingredients perfectly.
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Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 11 mins
Total Time: 21 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tsps olive oil divided, plus more for the skillet
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt divided 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil

Dressing

  • 1 clove garlic if garlic is not very juicy consider 1 1/2 -2 small cloves
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 5 tsps red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsps lemon juice fresh recommended
  • 3 anchovies or about 3" of anchovy past
  • 2 tsps fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp smoke paprika
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

Instructions

Dressing

  • Sprinkle the garlic clove with a pinch sea salt. Using a fork, mash the salt and garlic until it forms a paste.
  • Combine garlic paste with remaining ingredients and mix well.

Salad

  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat with a coating of olive oil.
  • Rinse and toss the cherry tomatoes with 2 tsps olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Cut the ends off the pepper and remove the seeds and membranes. Lay flat and slice vertically (julienned). Chop the strips in to 2 or 3 segments depending on how big your pepper is.
  • Toss the peppers in 2 tsps oil and 1/2 tsp of salt in a separate bowl.
  • When pan is hot, add tomatoes in one layer. They should sizzle when they hit the pan. Do not disturb for at least 4 minutes. Check one to see if the skin has charred. Timing will depend on the elements heat level. When you see black spots have formed under the tomatoes give them a stir. Tomatoes should be soft and may start to split but they should not be fully collapsed and mushy. You may need to give them another minute or two after you stir them to get the right consistency. (But if you stove is really hot you may not need the extra time.) See Note 1 for alternate cooking suggestions.
  • Transfer hot tomatoes to a serving platter.
  • Add the peppers to the hot skillet and allow them to cook undisturbed about 4 minutes. They will char faster than the tomatoes so watch them carefully. When black forms transfer the peppers to the platter with the tomatoes. Allow mixture to cool about 15 minutes.
  • While mixture is cooling, tear the mozzarella in to ragged strips or chunks. This will help hold the dressing in the rough edges. Add to the tomato/pepper mix and toss lightly to mix.
  • Tear several leaves of fresh basil and sprinkle over the salad.
  • Drizzle dressing over the salad and serve hot or at room temperature. Pass extra dressing on the side if desired.

Notes

Note 1:  Alternatively you could:
  • spread the tomatoes on a foil lined baking tray and broil.  Watch carefully and remove when they are charred.
  • Oil a griddle and heat over high heat until charred.
  • Heat BBQ on high, oil a grill basket or BBQ tray and cook until charred.
Timing will vary with each method depending on level of heat so watch carefully . Allow them to cook undisturbed until charred spots are showing.  Stir.  Tomatoes should be soft and possibly split but not soft and mushy.  Determine if any extra cook time is required after stirring to reach the desired consistency.

Nutrition

Calories: 305kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 1250mg | Potassium: 398mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2274IU | Vitamin C: 67mg | Calcium: 319mg | Iron: 2mg
Charred Cherry Tomato and Pepper SaladCharred Cherry Tomato and Pepper Salad

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