For last week’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), we got some beautiful heirloom tomatoes and fresh sweet basil. Now, I don’t know about you, but my mind goes two ways with these two fresh ingredients sitting on my counter: (1) Bruschetta or (2) Caprese Salad. Since I also got some tasty organic grape tomatoes I could use for bruschetta, my decision was made.
I think I’ve said this about Caesar Salad before, but caprese salad, or insalata caprese (if you’re getting fancy and channeling your inner Italian), is the easiest of all easy salads to make. Plus, it requires so few ingredients and looks really beautiful when plated. Winner!
There is one unbreakable rule for this recipe, however. Listen closely because this is very important. You must only use fresh, ripe and high quality ingredients.
Caprese salad is really not worth eating otherwise. Trust me. It’s like making canned alphabet soup in a Le Crueset — it’s just wrong. Your basil should be fragrant and not wilting. Your mozzarella should be so fresh it drips juices as you slice through it. And, finally, your tomatoes should actually smell and taste like actual tomatoes (isn’t it so sad how often this isn’t the case?).
I am in love with the flavor combination of garlic, balsamic vinegar and tomatoes. So, naturally, I made a garlic balsamic vinaigrette to drizzle over this caprese salad. Yum!
Caprese Salad (or Insalata Caprese) with Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 large heirloom tomatos, sliced into thick (1/4-inch) slices
4-6 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced into thick (1/4-inch) slices
6-8 large basil leaves, whole
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Combine garlic, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Set aside for 15-30 minutes.
On a platter or plate, alternate and overlap a tomato slice, followed by a mozzarella slice and then a basil leaf. Continue until all ingredients are used.