When it came time to decide what to bring to this month’s Dallas SOL supper, almost immediately, I thought of this great recipe at Smitten Kitchen. I prepared this recipe twice before, and both times, it received rave reviews. A crunchy, colorful non-lettuce salad that only gets more flavorful the longer it sits? What could be better for a pot-luck style dinner? And besides, it bursts flavor: sweet peppers, briny olives, creamy cheese, and juicy tomatoes, all enveloped in a wonderful sweet-sour red wine vinaigrette. Yum.
Knowing that peppers were in abundance in the farmer’s markets right now, this would be an easy salad to modify using local, organic ingredients. I wasn’t able to find tri-color local bell peppers (only green), so in an effort to maintain the rainbow of colors, I substituted some gorgeous banana and sweet Hungarian wax peppers of various colors. They stood in beautifully. Also, I was not able to find a local feta cheese, as was called for in the recipe, but Mozzarella Company in Dallas makes some gorgeous mozzarella, which was thoroughly enjoyed as well. All in all, this was another wonderful success, inspired by Smitten Kitchen!
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c cold water
1 T kosher salt
2 t sugar
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 green bell pepper
3 yellow banana peppers
3 red and orange sweet Hungarian wax peppers
1 kirby cucumber
1/4 fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 c pitted kalamata olives
1/2 c cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Swish together the red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt, and sugar in a small bowl until salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the red onion and set aside. (this allows the red onion to pickle, softening its bite)
Meanwhile, core and seed your peppers, and chop them into 1/2 inch pieces. Chop the cucumber, cheese, olives, and tomatoes into similarly-sized pieces. Put the vegetables into a large bowl.
Drain the onions from the vinegar mixture, reserving the liquid. Add the onions to the other vegetables in the large bowl. Pour a quarter-cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, and then drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss evenly, and taste to ensure seasoning is correct. Serve immediately, or allow to sit in refrigerator for a few hours.