Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tomato Salads

Caprese Salad

Nothing beats a simple tomato salad, paired with a crusty loaf of bread and a cold glass of white wine, on a hot summers evening. The farmer's markets are overflowing with all kinds of beautiful tomatoes. Here in Indiana the tomatoes don't arrive until sometime in July and are gone in early September. We Hoosiers have to make good use of our time. It makes me long for Tennessee where the tomatoes arrived in early summer and stayed into fall.

The one salad I adore is the Caprese Salad, or Insalata Caprese as the say in Italy. The first caprese salad that I ever had was in Italy. I hate to say it but it wasn't the best. The best was served to me in an Italian restaurant in Providence, RI. where Mike and I were dining with our friends, Lori and Ann. (We met them while on a Rick Steve's Best of Europe Tour.) 
Ann, Lori and me in Reutte, Austria

They gave us a grand tour of Providence showing all things Italian. We ended up at a Restaurant called Zooma where they were family so we were family too. The heirloom tomatoes were grown on the top on the restaurant and had just been picked. I swear they were still warm.

The salad can be made in different ways, but here is my rendition. The one thing you want to make sure of is that all of your ingredients are fresh and in season.

Caprese Salad

2 Ripe red tomatoes, sliced 1/4" thick
1/2 pound Fresh Cow's or Buffalo Mozzarella, sliced 1/4" thick
1/4 cup Olive oil, extra virgin
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper, freshly ground
Fresh Basil

Alternate tomato and cheese slices in a circle on a plate. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and cheese. Sprinkle with the basil. Serve immediately.

You are supposed to only use red tomatoes so that the salad represents the Italian flag - i.e., red, white and green. As you can see from the picture above I like to mix it up a bit.

A few weeks ago I saw a chef make a tomato salad on the Today's Show. All he did was slice tomatoes 1/4" thick, arrange them on a plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. This salad takes less than five minutes to prepare and is delicious. 

Life is good - enjoy!

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