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Ottolenghi’s Chargrilled Asparagus, Courgettes and Manouri

Lightly grilled courgettes and asparagus are tossed with slices of crispy manouri cheese and dressed in a fragrant basil oil in this colourful summer salad.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi


This salad is substantial enough to be a light meal in itself, or it works well served with some simply cooked salmon. Manouri is a Greek, semi-soft, fresh cheese produced from the drained whey left over after making feta. It’s light, creamy and subtle but also keeps its shape when fried. It’s not as easy to get hold of as we’d wish, so if you can’t find any, use slices of halloumi as an alternative. Another, slightly different, option, is to go for a light and creamy goat’s cheese such as Rosary: it doesn’t keep its shape when fried, though, so skip on this stage and just add it to the salad as it is.

With thanks to Helen Goh for creating this, in her early days with the team.

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350g cherry tomatoes, halved
140ml olive oil
24 asparagus spears
2 courgettes
200g manouri (or halloumi) cheese, sliced 2cm thick
25g rocket
flaky sea salt and black pepper
For the basil oil:
75ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
25g basil leaves

Essential kit

You will need: a blender.


There is a fair amount of vegetable preparation here before makingthe basil oil and assembling the salad. Start with the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas Mark 5. Mix the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with some salt and pepper. Spread them out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, skin-side down. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes or until semi-dried. You can leave them there for a bit more or a bit less time, depending on how dry you like them. They will be deliciousanyway. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Trim the woody bases of the asparagus and blanch for 4 minutes in plenty of boiling water. Drain and refresh under cold water, making sure the spears are completely cold. Drain well again, then transfer to a mixing bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil and some salt and pepper.

Slice the courgettes very thinly lengthwise, using a mandolin (this inexpensive tool will make your kitchen life dramatically easier) or a vegetable peeler. Mix with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and some salt and pepper.

Place a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and leave there for a few minutes. It should be very hot. Grill the courgettes and asparagus,turning them over after about a minute. You want to get nice char marks on all sides. Remove and leave to cool.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Fry the manouri cheese for 3 minutes on each side or until it is golden.

Place on kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil. Alternatively, chargrill the cheese on the hot griddle pan for about 2 minutes on each side. To make the basil oil, blitz all the ingredients along with a pinch of salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a blender until smooth.You might need to double the quantity for some blenders to be effective. Keep any extra oil for future salads.

To assemble, arrange the rocket, vegetables and cheese in layerson a flat serving plate. Try to build up the salad whilst showing all the individual components. Drizzle with as much basil oil as you like and serve.

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From the book: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

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