Here on the West Coast, we haven't been hard-hit by the year's devastating tomato blight, so I've been taking advantage of my good fortune by supporting growers of heirloom tomatoes (perhaps a little too much; the other day I bought $21 worth of them!). As a salad fanatic, I had to make my favorite type of tomato salad.
The insalata Caprese, which literally translates to "salad from Capri," is composed of three main ingredients: fresh mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes, and basil leaves. It's a no-brainer to prepare, and takes five seconds to make, so the key is to use top-notch components.
In addition to enjoying the basic Caprese, it's also fun to play around with the recipe. On this day, I chopped up an extra pound of heirlooms, let them sit in a fine sieve until the juice strained through, and whisked the juice with olive oil and seasonings to make a punchy vinaigrette that brought out the savory herbaceousness of tomatoes. Start experimenting when you read more.
2 pounds (about 4 large) vine-riped heirloom tomatoes
1 pound fresh fior di latte or bufala mozzarella
1/4 cup fresh basil, washed well and dried
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
- Slice mozzarella and tomatoes to preferred thickness (I cut them 1/4-inch thick).
- Arrange on a serving platter, alternating tomato, mozzarella, and basil, overlapping elements slightly.
- Drizzle with olive oil. Season salad with salt and pepper.
Serves 4 to 6.
- Salads, Cheese