Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Tomatoes are coming into season and am I so happy!  I am growing several varieties of heirlooms this year and I can’t wait till they start getting ripe so I can have fresh tomatoes that haven’t been grown commercially, picked green and coaxed to ripen.  Store bought tomatoes rarely taste as good as a home-grown crop or farmers market fresh tomatoes.

Tip – don’t store your tomatoes in the refrigerator, leave them out on your counter (in a cool place) and let them ripen naturally, they will be sweeter.

This is one of the most simple and delicious salads for summer.  Fresh mozzarella slices, ripe tomato, fresh basil and a drizzle of good olive oil, good balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  That’s it, and it is so colorful, tasty and healthy.   It’s important to use good balsamic – Trader Joe’s has a decent everyday use variety for $3.00, but I’ve found a better one at William Sonoma for $24.00.  I know, that’s pretty expensive, but in the balsamic vinegar world that is cheap.  Great ones can easy go for over $150 dollars or more and needless to say, I’ve never had the privilege of trying one.  I’m welcome to donations or gifts however!  [UPDATE!] I have found a great source for balsamic vinegar – Napa Valley Vineyards.  Their Grand Reserve Balsamic is wonderful, aged, thick and 4% acid, I now order this in a 6-pack directly from the website and I mix and match (try the fig and the golden balsamic).  As long as you spend $50, shipping is currently free.

For using this recipe as an appetizer for a crowd you can get fresh mozzarella that is in liquid (it comes in small balls or large).  Get the small ones, put one on a fancy toothpick, then a basil leaf, then a cherry tomato.  Put them on a platter and drizzle with the dressing.  A finger friendly colorful and delicious appetizer!

Caprese Salad – by Debra Crawford

Vine ripe tomatoes (figure one for each guest – or about four slices)
Thinly sliced fresh mozzarella.  Make sure it is the fresh variety which is softer, not the grating variety.
Fresh basil leaves
Olive Oil
Good Balsamic
Salt and Pepper

Slice tomatoes and cheese, alternate tomato, cheese and basil leaves on a platter.  Drizzle with dressing and salt and pepper.  Easy!

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