Tomato Basil Salad (Caprese) 4 Ways (ME)

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Caprese Stack Salad
Sometimes I take the basics for granted. For the past month I’ve been reveling in the sheer joy of fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden. I’ve made numerous variations on Caprese, a traditional Italian salad of Basil, Mozzarella and Tomato. Initially, I didn’t put any of these on my website because I assumed it was too basic and too easy. Then I remembered hearing multiple people’s surprise over the last few months when seeing this salad on a restaurant menu.

It is as good as it sounds. The flavors are simply stunning. I eat these combinations as often as possible in the peak months and I never grow tired of its perfection. Good Olive Oil and enough Sea Salt is key to the flavoring.

  • NOTE: Some varieties of Basil are particularly spicy and do not need ground pepper (Genovese Basil is a good example). You can taste and decide for yourself, but I suggest omitting ground pepper anytime a spicier Basil is used.

    INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS
    FOR CAPRESE STACK
    Yield: 1 Caprese Stack for sharing as an appetizer, or single dinner portion (with crusty bread)
    1 Large Garden Fresh Tomato
    6-12 Basil Leaves (one to two per tomato slice depending on tomato and basil size), rinsed and dried
    1 Large Mozzarella Ball, sliced the same width as tomato, 1 slice per tomato layer*
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Fresh Ground Sea Salt
    Fresh Ground Pepper

    *My local market was out of large Mozzarella, so I made due with small Mozzarella balls sliced in half for the Caprese Stack and Traditional recipes. I used a few small pieces of Mozzarella per layer.

    1. Slice Tomatoes and Mozzarella in even widths.
    2. Layer as follows: Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella. Drizzle generously with Olive Oil and dust with Salt and Pepper on each layer. Repeat until you run out of Tomato and Mozzarella. Enjoy!

    Traditional Caprese - a large mozzarella ball, sliced, is ideal.
    FOR TRADITIONAL CAPRESE
    Yield: 1 Caprese Salad for sharing as an appetizer, or single dinner portion (with crusty bread)
    1 Large Garden Fresh Tomato
    6-12 Basil Leaves (one to two per tomato slice depending on tomato and basil size), rinsed and dried
    1 Large Mozzarella Ball, sliced the same width as tomato, 1 slice per tomato layer
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Fresh Ground Sea Salt
    Fresh Ground Pepper

    1. Slice Tomatoes and Mozzarella in even slices.
    2. Layer as follows: Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella. Drizzle generously with Olive Oil and dust with Salt and Pepper on the tops. The only difference here – don’t stack, spread it out in single layers. Repeat until you run out of Tomato and Mozzarella. Enjoy!

    Caprese Mini-Skewers, perfect bite sized appetizers.
    FOR CAPRESE MINI-SKEWERS
    Yield: 12 Appetizer Bites
    12 Small Garden Fresh Cherry Tomatoes
    24 Small Basil Leaves (one per tomato slice), rinsed and dried
    12 Small Mozzarella Balls
    12 Toothpicks
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Fresh Ground Sea Salt
    Fresh Ground Pepper

    1. On a toothpick pierce one small cherry tomato, one small Basil leaf folded in half, one small Mozzarella ball and one more small Basil leaf folded in half. Lay on a large plate. Repeat until all ingredients are gone.
    2. Drizzle mini-skewers will Olive Oil and dust with salt and pepper. Eat all contents off one toothpick in one bite – yum! Enjoy!

    Caprese Spinach Salad
    FOR CAPRESE SPINACH SALAD
    Yield: 1 Individual Salad
    2 Cups Fresh Spinach
    8 Fresh Basil leaves, rinsed and dried, torn into large pieces
    1 Medium Garden Fresh Tomato, cut into chunks
    12 Blueberries
    5 Small Mozzarella Balls, cut in 1/2
    1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    2 Tbsp Local Honey
    1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
    Fresh Ground Sea Salt
    Fresh Ground Pepper

    1. In a small bowl combine Spinach, Basil, Tomatoes, Blueberries, and Mozzarella Balls.
    2. Drizzle salad with Olive Oil, Honey and Red Wine Vinegar. Dust with Salt and Pepper. Enjoy!

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