Thursday, June 24, 2010

My First Caprese Salad of the Summer

In addition to the mint I'm growing this summer to make mojitos, I'm also growing 3 tomato plants.  I love summer tomatos - I usually use them to make caprese salads, bruschetta, or BLT sandwiches.  In recipes like these with so few ingredients and the tomatoes playing a star role, tomatoes bought in the winter just aren't the same. 

I was so excited when I realized I actually have a couple tomatoes that were turning red!  I picked two tomatoes and used them to make a caprese salad to go with our dinner tonight (I picked some fresh basil from my garden as well).  This isn't really a recipe, but I'll give you an idea of how I put this together and some tips. 

The #1 most important thing when making caprese is to use high quality ingredients - that's where my summer tomatoes come in.  Also, use good fresh mozzarella - That rubbery ball of fresh mozzarella wrapped in plastic won't taste as good as the higher quality mozzarella balls that float in the liquid (buffalo mozzarella is really good).  Use good EVOO and more importantly (in my opinion) use good balsamic vinegar.  I use this amazingly sweet 18-year balsamic vinegar that costs about twenty bucks a bottle - I had a taste of it a few years back, and now that I know what good balsamic tastes like, I just can't bring myself to stop buying this incredible, yet expensive stuff.

The second most important thing is to salt your tomatoes - if you don't salt them enough they will taste bland....don't be scared of salt!  Just add a little at a time and take a quick taste to see if it tastes right. 

Sometimes when I make a caprese salad, I use chunks of tomatoes and the little fresh mozzarella balls mixed together, but tonight I made a layered caprese salad.


Ripe summer tomatoes - I used two
Fresh mozzarella - I used two of the mozzarella balls that came in a container of four
Basil (either whole leaves or chopped, whichever you prefer) - I probably used around 12 basil leaves
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste


Slice each tomato into 3 or 4 slices, depending on how big they are, and slice the fresh mozzarella.  First, lay the tomato slices on a plate and salt the tomatoes to taste.  Layer the tomatoes with the mozzarella and basil.  Drizzle with EVOO and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

This is a perfect side dish for any summer meal :)

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