One of my favorite food experiences is picking and eating a ripe tomato right off the vine in the warmth of the afternoon. Tomatoes in the store are normally picked ahead of their peak, and then ripened with chemicals like ethylene. In addition, store bought tomatoes are usually refrigerated in transit, causing the tender flesh to develop a mealy consistency.
If 4 months ago you had enough foresight to plant tomatoes, this is a great way to use the multitudes of fruit hanging on the vines. For an absolutely delicious treat, pick, chop, and eat as quickly as possible.
2 large fresh picked tomatoes.
1/4 lb fresh mozzarella (get Mozzarella di Bufala Campana if possible, but cow’s milk mozzarella works well too)
1/2 cup of Balsamic Vinegar, reduced over low heat by three fourths and then chilled to room temperature
4 basil leaves, cut into long thin strips ( chiffonade)
1 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Coarse Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper
1 Wash and chop the tomatoes into bite size pieces.
2 Cut the mozzarella into small bite size chunks.
3 Combine the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, reserving a few basil strips for garnish
4 Coat with balsamic reduction
5 Drizzle olive oil over salad
6 Sprinkle salt and fresh cracked black pepper
7 Garnish with remaining basil strips
-Although the traditional Caprese salad doesn’t include Balsamic Vinegar, it really helps call out the sweetness in the fresh tomatoes.
-Local farmers markets are usually a good source of fresh tomatoes. I really like making this with Brandywine, Cherokee Purple and Yellow Pear heirloom tomatoes.
-If you don’t have fresh mozzarella, you can always use homemade ricotta (see recipe below). I like to create a bed of arugala lettuce, top with tomatoes, then the ricotta, balsamic, basil and olive oil.
-Tomatoes are FULL of lycopene, an oil soluble antioxidant. Studies have shown that a small amount of oil with tomatoes makes the lycopene much easier for your body to absorb.