Caprese Salad

I’m really not a fan of the hot and steamy North Carolina summers.  I’d just as soon fast forward from say July 1 to Sept 1 and skip all the 95-105 days with their smothering humidity.  But then I’d miss the few joys of summer here – berry picking, pickling cucumbers, and homegrown tomatoes and herbs.  I particularly relish stepping out on my back deck and snipping fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano or dill, and in season I use my fresh herbs daily.  A Caprese salad is a wonderful way to use both fresh herbs and perfectly ripe home-grown or farmers’ market tomatoes.  It’s also a quick, healthy, and refreshing light supper on a hot summer evening when you don’t want to cook or even eat hot food!

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad with Garlic Toast

This recipe will serve 2 as a light supper or 4 as an appetizer.  With its simple, fresh ingredients, a caprese salad is a perfect place to utilize a special olive oil.  I use an extra virgin, cold-pressed unfiltered California olive oil that I get at Trader Joe’s.  It has a clean, herbaceous taste that is great with salads.  A peppery Tuscan EVOO would also be a good choice.  If you are having this as a light entrée, serve it with crusty bread for mopping up the juices and an ice cold beer or Pinot Grigio.

2 ripe tomatoes, seeded (if you like) and sliced ¼ inch thick

6 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced into ¼ inch rounds

a few sprigs of assorted herbs – basil is classic but I also always use oregano and thyme

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. top-notch extra virgin olive oil

1 small clove garlic, crushed or minced super fine

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Alternate cheese and tomatoes in a row on each plate, spacing them out to provide plenty of surface for the herbs and dressing to cover.  Scatter herbs evenly over each plate, coarsely tearing any large leaves.  Whisk oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.  Drizzle dressing over salads and top with a final grind of fresh pepper.

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