I just came off a weekend marathon of tomatoes, gorgeous heirlooms that I picked at a farm down the road. I made a Caprese salad Saturday night for dinner. While a traditional Caprese has a drizzle of olive oil, I opted for a basil vinaigrette. This Insalata Caprese with Basil Vinaigrette is the perfect summertime dish. The bounty at the farm stands just doesn’t get any better than in August. And the colors, I can’t even.
So we’re talking tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, sliced and arranged beautifully on salad greens and then drizzled with the basil vinaigrette. A sprinkling of sea salt, a few torn basil leaves and you have the most divine salad on earth. Really, so incredibly fresh tasting, you just can’t get these flavors any other time of year.
I don’t know much about heirlooms. At the farm, they have pictures with names at the end of the rows available to pick. A couple times, they let me just choose a few from the boxes they picked for local restaurants. I chose an assortment of red and yellow ones of various sizes and shapes, and a chocolate colored one. I happen to think heirlooms are gorgeous, warts and all. Mine had streaks, cracks and some odd shapes but they were beautiful sliced, like a neon rainbow. And they were bursting with juicy, sweet, real tomato flavor. Just lovely.
I hope you’re enjoying tomatoes from your garden or farm stand. I just can’t get enough of them in salads, sandwiches, BLT’s and on grilled pizza. So many options, I don’t want August to end. Do you say “tomayto” or “tomahto”? 🍅🍅🌿🍅🍅
Insalata Caprese with Basil Vinaigrette
Serves four, can easily adjust amount of ingredients
- 3 – 5 heirloom tomatoes, different colors and sizes, thickly sliced
- 1 – 2 balls, fresh mozzarella, drained and thickly sliced
- Mixed baby lettuces
- ½ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 garlic clove, chopped, preferably heirloom from the farm stand
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- Scatter a serving platter with mixed baby lettuces. Arrange overlapping layers of tomatoes and mozzarella on top of the lettuces. Sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- Put olive oil, vinegar, water, chopped garlic, mustard and salt into a blender. Coarsely chop the basil leaves and add to the blender. Mix on high for about 30 seconds until smooth. If necessary, add a little more water or olive oil to thin. Transfer to a jar.
- With a spoon, drizzle basil vinaigrette all over tomato and cheese salad. Garnish with a few torn basil leaves and serve. Leftover vinaigrette will keep covered in the fridge for several days, bring to room temp for serving.
*Basil vinaigrette adapted from David Lebovitz
NOTE: Do not store fresh basil in the refrigerator, it will turn brown. Snip stem ends and place in a glass of water. Set on counter, loosely covered with a plastic bag.