It’s summer tomato season! This is the time, and honestly the only time, when we can truly enjoy eating fresh, juicy tomatoes. Our lunchtime sandwiches, with a thick tomato slice inside, go from blah to delicious. For dinner, our ritual is to set out a big plate of tomato slices. I like them plain, but some in my household prefer them sprinkled with salt, pepper, and either chopped onion or fresh chives from the garden. (Why kill the taste of the tomato with all of that?!)
When there is a dinner party calling, a plain plate of tomatoes doesn’t quite cut it. Italian cuisine offers a simple and tasty solution: tomato and mozzarella salad. Hailing from the Italian island of Capri, this quick salad features slices of tomatoes, mozzarella, leaves of wild arugula and oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. In other parts of Italy, basil takes arugula’s place. Mmmm good. This is what I call the perfect appetizer. It’s simple, refreshing, full of flavor, and doesn’t take hours to prepare.
By the way, if you are interested in finding out more about the beautiful island of Capri, check out these 30 interesting facts. One fact I find interesting is that the ancient Greeks first settled there around the 8th century B.C. It is home to the “Blue Grotto,” a beautiful cave situated along the coast. This family’s Blue Grotto experience is worth a read in case you are considering to take a trip there: “Is the Blue Grotto Really Worth It.”
For my Caprese Salad, instead of using slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, I needed a set-up that would be easier to spoon onto a plate and eat at a potluck picnic. For starters, I decided to use grape tomatoes, cut in half. I also used pearl-size mozzarella balls, which are easily separated by hand.
I shredded/chopped quite a bit of basil to add that nice third flavor this salad is known for.
I also added a couple of other ingredients that are somewhat of a variation from the traditional insalata caprese: celery and balsamic vinegar (oh no!). The balsamic vinegar added a nice sweet-sour dimension to the salad, so I’m glad I took that detour from the list of basic ingredients. I mixed the balsamic vinegar with extra virgin olive oil, as well as salt and pepper. (Add some sugar if necessary to balance out the sour flavor of the salad.)
I mixed the dressing ingredients together, poured the dressing over the tomatoes, mozzarella, celery, and basil, and tossed the salad briefly. I then refrigerated the salad for about one hour so that the flavors could sink in.
That’s it. So easy, yet so, so tasty!