Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

If there's one thing I don't take for granted, it's the relationships I have with people in my life. Regardless if they are familiar faces or new acquaintances, I love meeting new people and forming friendships. I met Debbie last month when she attended the Rick Bayless garden tour I hosted. She's an avid home gardener and had quite a few tomato varieties she was growing. When Debbie attended a recent pastry class I hosted, it was such a pleasure to see her again. Much to my surprise, she brought me some tomatoes from her garden to play with! With such gorgeous fresh and organic tomatoes, the first thing that came to mind was making this Tomato & Mozzarella Salad. It's colorful, it's fresh and a perfect way to highlight tomatoes...


Debbie was so generous to give me a box of beautiful tomatoes! (Thank you Debbie!) She provided me with the picture above outlining the different varieties she gave me. This salad is a take on the traditional caprese salad. Consisting of a few of the tomatoes above (specifically the Mr. Stripy, Marremano and Ruffled Red), I layered the tomato slices along with fresh mozzarella cheese and drizzled some homemade basil pesto over the top. A light splash of olive oil, salt and pepper finished the dish. It's so simple and colorful, what's not to love? Use whatever tomatoes you have on hand and make use of those beautiful tomatoes that are currently in season!

Tomato & Mozzarella Salad
original Joelen recipe

2-3 tomatoes, sliced thin
1 log fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
homemade pesto (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

On a serving platter, arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices alternately in rows. Once your platter is full, drizzle the pesto over the top of the tomato and mozzarella slices. Drizzle the olive oil over the entire dish and season with salt & pepper to taste if desired.

Basil Pesto
makes about 1 cup

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (2-3 bunches)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Place all the ingredients in a food processor; pulse a few times, then process until fairly smooth, or to the desired consistency, scraping down the sides occasionally.

Variations - You don't have to use basil. I've also made pesto using fresh sage leaves, oregano, and/or thyme either on its own or in a combination. You can also use other kinds of nuts such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, etc. Pesto is very versatile and can be made to fit your tastes or whatever ingredients you have on hand.