A salad is a salad is a salad, and then…
One thing that I can grow is basil. I think most everybody can. If you’ve been reading the exploits of my community garden adventure this summer, you’ll know that I can’t grow much more than that. The basil that I’m raising this summer isn’t growing out on that shared plot. Maybe that’s why it’s flourishing.
I’m at the point now where it’s time to start giving some away, start a pesto making operation out of my shed or risk being overtaken by herbs. Before I open my roadside basil stand or break out the heavy duty food processor another option comes to mind. It’s summer, so, how about a Caprese?
In my humble estimation, Caprese is one of the best all around summer salads (avocado, tomato and feta is also right up there for me). The Caprese is nice because you can experiment without taking people too far out of their salad comfort zone. You’ve seen a thousand different platings of this classic starter. Today I was opting for a reconstructed version.
I use the term reconstructed instead of the “oh, so popular” deconstructed, because I consider a Caprese Salad to be deconstructed to begin with. A slice of ripe tomato, a wedge of fresh mozzarella and a leaf or two of aromatic basil. It’s up too you to put it all together on your fork and then in your mouth. You decide the proportions and makeup of each delicious bite. It doesn’t get more deconstructed than that.
My idea was to take the concept one step further. Plate each individual element so that your salad is uniquely you. In short, three separate parts to the serving plate. Tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Dressed up a little and then served in a casual, family style manner. Everybody gets to reconstruct in anyway they choose.
I think I got it right!
My guests did too!
Here’s How To Do It
2 whole ripe tomatoes, cut in chunks
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn in half
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
On a large serving platter make three rows. One row of tomato chunks, the center mozzarella cheese and the last row basil. Divide the olive oil and drizzle 2 tablespoons over the tomatoes and the other 2 tablespoons over the basil. Divide the balsamic and do the same. Salt and pepper to your liking. Use a large serving fork and let your guests take as much or as little of each ingredients as they like.
Note: Adjust the amount of olive oil and vinegar to your particular taste. Some people like more, some less.
Seeing as this is a cookbook site, here are a few links to some great cookbooks that feature other variations on the classic Caprese. You’ll also find some other recipes that are sure to go great with your salad.