By Louise Liebenberg
Sam and Sam Clarke, the British chefs behind the celebrated restaurant Moro, say this chopped salad, a refreshing mixture of tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and coriander “offset with creamy yoghurt and caramelised butter”, is wonderful on its own, but even better when paired with grilled or roasted marinated lamb.
The recipe is from ‘Casa Moro’, one of two books by the couple which has recently been re-published by Ebury Press in soft-cover and retail for around R280 each.
I’ve been an ardent fan of the two Sams, aka Samuel and Samantha, who distilled their passion for food from Spain and the Muslim Mediterranean into the highly successful Moro, and later, a tapas bar called Morito.
Of course I was thrilled to learn ‘Casa Moro’ was now in paperback as my dog-eared hardcover copy from 2004 was one of the most useful cookery books I had every bought.
‘Casa Moro’ was inspired by the couple’s three-month honeymoon in Spain and Morocco while ‘Moro East’s inspiration as found a little closer to their home – in an East End allotment.
I found the recipe below easy and will definitely make it again, not only because I loved the taste but because the colours were amazing. The dish calls for “1 quantity of caramelised butter”, the recipe for which appears elsewhere in ‘Casa Moro’. In “our” language caramelised butter sounds very much like ghee and I would suggest a teaspoon or two at most, as it is very rich. You can either buy it ready made or else just melt a bit of butter (they suggest 75g) in a small saucepan on lowest heat, and keep it on that heat for quite a while until the pale whey separates, turns golden brown and develops a nutty, caramelised aroma. But watch out – it can burn!
The Clarkes finish off the dish with a sprinkling of Turkish chilli flakes called “kirmizi biber”, which I could not find anywhere as South Africa does not have a particularly strong Turkish community. In the end I just used regular dried chilli flakes which seemed fine.
Serves 6 to 8 as a mezze and 4 for a starter or light meal
12 cherry tomatoes, halved; 1/2 cucumber, peeled; 1/4 small red onion, peeled; 1/2 red pepper, seeded; 1/2 green pepper, seeded; 2 heaped Tbsp each of roughly chopped fresh coriander and parsley
1/2 garlic clove; crushed to a paste with salt; 1 Tbsp lemon juice; 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil; sea salt and black pepper
Ingredients for serving
200g Greek yoghurt thinned with 1 Tbsp milk; 1 quantity caramelised butter; 1 tsp Turkish chilli flakes called kirmizi biber; warm flatbread or pitta bread
For the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together and taste for seasoning.
Chop the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and red and green peppers very finely and place in a bowl. Do not be tempted to use a food processor. Add the herbs and dressing. Toss well and check for seasoning. Spread the chopped salad out on a large plate. Spoon the yoghurt over the centre of the salad, then drizzle the warm caramelised butter all over. Sprinkle with the chilli flakes. Eat with bread or grilled meats.