Although the weather is stormy today, in my kitchen I’m still enjoying the last bites of Summer. I’m talking about tomatoes! My aunt’s garden is bursting with them and she’s been sharing her bounty of juicy cherry and plump beefsteak tomatoes with me for the past couple of weeks. I’ve got some mozzarella and basil on hand, so I’m putting together my variation of the classic Caprese salad. Although this Italian favorite is often served as a layered dish with thick slices of tomatoes alternating between slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella and basil leaves, I prefer to combine all the ingredients into a chopped salad.
I can still remember the first time I tasted Caprese salad: I was 17 and at a friend’s house for a barbecue. Although our friendship didn’t last, I will never forget her Italian-born mother’s Caprese salad. She made it as I do here, by combing several types of tomatoes (yellow, red, cherry, early girl, heirloom, whatever you want!) with chunks of the best, buttery, smooth fresh mozzarella you can find. The whole things is coated in light balsamic-herb vinaigrette.
Chopped Caprese Salad
3 1/2 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped (I used 2 red beefsteaks and two yellow tomatoes)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon chopped basil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
6 teaspoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Torn basil leaves and grated parmesan cheese, optional for garnish
- In a large bowl, gently toss the tomatoes and mozzarella until they are well combined.
- Place the minced garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with salt. With the back of a knife, mash to form a paste.
- In a small bowl, combine the garlic paste with the basil and balsamic vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil. Season with fresh black pepper and more salt, if necessary. Taste the dressing. If the vinegar flavor is too strong, add more oil.
- Once the vinaigrette is seasoned to your liking, drizzle it over the top of the tomatoes and cheese. Toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with the torn basil leaves and grated parmesan, if using. Enjoy immediately.