Heir­loom tomato salad with feta, pis­ta­chio pesto and fried okra

SERVES 6 // PREP TIME 25 MINS // COOK 1 HR 10 MINS

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Food -

“If, like me, your first taste of okra was a scary, slimy af­fair, you prob­a­bly di­vorced your­self from ever tast­ing it again. Fried crisp, how­ever, it’s com­pletely con­vert­ing,” says Mo­ran. “Its seedy crunch is great in a salad with softer tex­tures; toma­toes make a fun spring­board. I’m a sucker for heir­loom any­thing, and the tomato fam­ily is a com­plete joy – if you can find them, green tigers are my favourite. Com­bined with pis­ta­chio pesto and basil, this salad brings the gen­tle calm of a sum­mer gar­den onto your plate.” Pic­tured p107.

75 gm (½ cup) pis­ta­chio nuts 1 gar­lic clove 1 cup (firmly packed) basil leaves 6 black pep­per­corns 80 ml (⅓ cup) ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil 18 small-medium okra (180gm) 250 ml (1 cup) mild olive oil, veg­etable oil or canola oil 12 (about 800gm) ripe heir­loom toma­toes 1 tbsp ap­ple cider vine­gar (see note) 150 gm mar­i­nated goat’s feta (see note)

1 Pre­heat oven to 100°C.

Roast pis­ta­chio nuts on an oven tray un­til crisp and golden (50 min­utes to 1 hour). Trans­fer to a mor­tar with gar­lic, most of the basil leaves (re­serve a few to serve), pep­per­corns and ¾ tsp sea salt flakes and pound with a pes­tle to a coarse paste, adding 1½ tbsp ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil to form a pesto-like con­sis­tency.

2 Cut two slits length­ways along each okra from the pointed tip, but keep­ing the crown in­tact, so each okra has three fin­gers joined at the crown. Splay apart and toss okra with 1 tsp salt in a bowl. Stand un­til liq­uid seeps out (30 min­utes). Dry com­pletely by press­ing okra firmly be­tween paper tow­els.

3 Heat mild olive oil in a large, deep fry­ing pan to 180°C.

Fry okra in batches, turn­ing oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til deep golden and crisp (5-7 min­utes; be care­ful, hot oil will spit). Re­move with a slot­ted spoon and drain on paper tow­els.

4 Slice toma­toes 1cm thick and spread on a plat­ter. Driz­zle with vine­gar, then dot with pesto. Crum­ble feta over, and tear and scat­ter re­served basil on top. Driz­zle with re­main­ing ex­travir­gin olive oil and scat­ter with fried okra to serve.

Note Mo­ran uses Wir­raninna Ridge ap­ple cider vine­gar from Bilpin and Wil­low­brae or Mered­ith Dairy feta.

Wine sug­ges­tion A rosé with some body, such as the 2017 Farr Ris­ing Saignee from Gee­long.

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