Red Orach and Roasted Pepper Salad with Grilled Tomato Pebre

On top of yesterday being Food Day Canada, in Edmonton we celebrate Canada’s cultural diversity with Heritage Festival. It’s a massive fair of food, dance, crafts involving dozens of countries who reflect that diversity. Nations like Eritrea, Vietnam, Japan, and many others have an amazing selection of food to try.
When I approached the tent from Chile, I noticed they had a condiment reminiscent of salsa. Pebre is a fresh tomato, onion and chilli blend that can be a topping for sausage, a sandwich or a dip for empanadas, like I enjoyed:

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After a little research into how it is traditionally done, like a salsa to its north, a pebre uses peeled tomatoes for the soft texture. On another scorcher of a summer day, I didn’t want to do the traditional blanching in boiling water and shocking in ice to peel the tomatoes so I grilled cherry tomatoes instead. Grilling is fast and, like a grilled or roasted pepper, to steam away the skins afterwards in a plastic wrapped bowl, is easier.
I thought this condiment would be a wonderful dressing to a crisp salad green. Yesterday at the market, I got a bold, crisp green (green used generically not literally) called red orach. It has a mild bitterness that paired wonderfully with the pebre. Finishing with roasted sweet peppers harmonized the bitter, sour, savoury, spicy combination.

Red Orach and Roasted Pepper Salad with Grilled Tomato Pebre

For the Grilled Tomato Pebre:

12 cherry tomatoes (I used a mix of yellow and purple-red tomatoes)
1/2 tsp cold pressed canola oil + 1 Tbsp to finish the dressing
1/2 cup finely chopped summer onion (slightly larger spring onion with a green top)
1/4 cup finely chopped summer onion green top
2 Tbsp rhubarb juice (juice from 1/2 cup fresh rhubarb puréed and strained)
1/2-1 fresh jalapeno, finely chopped (amount depends on degree of spiciness you like)
1 tsp salt

On a grill set to medium high, grill the whole cherry tomatoes tossed in 1/2 tsp oil, until golden and the skin is starting to split.

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Place the grilled tomatoes in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam the skins for 15-20 minutes. Peel the tomatoes and crush with your fingers into a medium bowl. Combine with onions, onion green tops, jalapeno, rhubarb juice, 1 Tbsp oil and salt. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend and the onions to soften slightly.

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For the salad:

3 cups red orach (arugula or a blend of frisée, endive and radicchio would be great too)
1/2 cup roasted sweet peppers, torn into rough 4 cm/2″ chunks
Reserved Pebre

In a medium bowl, combine the red orach, roasted peppers and pebre lightly with your fingers, tossing the dressing to coat completely. If you are sensitive to fresh chillis, you may need to wear gloves at this point (and when making the pebre, for that matter). Serves 2.

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