As the weather warms and days grow longer, I start thinking about eating lighter, healthier, fresher. Few things fit that bill better than a good Caprese Salad with fresh tomatoes, basil, and soft, mild mozzarella. A little olive oil and that’s pretty much it! Some grilled bread and it’s a wonderful, healthy, satisfying lunch.
You can get good (but not yet great) tomatoes right now; although I generally like to eat things at the peak of seasonality, I was craving this salad and couldn’t wait. But you can imagine how much better it’ll be once late summer rolls around and the Farmer’s Market is full of the best, most luscious, most flavorful tomatoes around, and in dozens of varieties! I’m drooling just imagining it. This salad will tide me over until that precious time arrives, especially since I made the mozzarella by hand, at home. The homemade cheese really sings and will elevate a lowly off-season tomato to higher heights. If you get a chance, check out the video recipe post I made earlier entitled Making Fresh Mozzarella Balls; I show you how fun and easy it is to make yourself.
Alternately, just buy a good cheese a your local gourmet market. Try to find Mozzarella di Bufula or any high-quality fresh cow’s milk mozzarella. The company Gioia, here in Southern california, makes superb mozzarella which is available in specialty shops. I know for certain that Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica carries it.
The greens are a combination of micro arugula and micro purple basil, which I purchased at Gelson’s Market. Micro greens are not necessarily readily available for the casual consumer, so substitute some torn-up sweet Italian basil and baby arugula if you want to duplicate what I did here.
I got some pretty good, pre-season tomatoes (baby tomatoes and these oxblood-colored salad tomatoes) and sliced them. I topped the tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, and topped that with the mixure of microgreens. I drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil and just a little bit of decent balsamic vinegar. A sprinkle of fleur de sel (any high-end, large-crystal salt will suffice) and some cracked tellicherry black peppercorn completed the dish.