As much as tomatoes and mozzarella complement each other, sometimes you just want to appreciate their individual strengths. This deconstructed version of a classic Caprese salad is so easy to assemble and gains hosting points for creativity! It’s an ideal dish for a summer party.
Like any simple and fresh recipe, it calls for the best ingredients. Good quality mozzarella, ripe flavorful tomatoes, and whole-bodied extra virgin olive oil just cannot be substituted for anything that’s not top-notch. This doesn’t mean it has to be super expensive. Tomatoes are in their prime season and therefore reasonably priced during the summer. I often find cherry tomatoes to be very tasty compared to other varieties and not as expensive.
First-rate fresh mozzarella isn’t hard to find in stores anymore. Look for the kind that’s soft and springy – preferably imported from Italy. When selecting a good olive oil, I always recommend choosing extra virgin because it will be at its purest and highest quality.
California has been crafting premium yet affordable olive oils for many years. I typically choose organic olive oils that have a nutty but almost peppery flavor. The Whole Foods 365 house brand of olive oil has a wonderful taste and is relatively inexpensive compared to other organic brands.
I’m fortunate to have fresh basil to pick from my garden that has been flourishing all summer. Growing Basil is easy and very rewarding.
When crafting any form of Caprese salad that suits you, never forget to finish it with drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
1 pound fresh mozzarella pearls
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Instructions: Assemble the ingredients in any way you desire. Deconstructed rows are a modern arrangement but simply tossing everything together is nice too.
Pesto Tortellini (optional)
1 pound fresh tortellini
1 cup fresh Garden Basil Pesto, or store-bought
Instructions: Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, drain and lightly toss with pesto when the pasta is still warm. Add additional olive oil to thin the sauce if needed.