Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Caprese Salad, and the secret to finding the perfect tomato

There are few things that I find so perfect as a Caprese Salad. Fresh tomatoes, ribbons of fragrant basil, the all too familiar pungent flavor of garlic, all topped with luxurious, fruity olive oil and fresh cracked pepper...it is the perfect combination of flavors. Of course it can always be kicked up a notch with creamy mozzarella cheese layered in between the layers. It is one of my favorite things to chow down on in summer months, bringing me back to summers in my mothers garden where the tomatoes would ripen under the hot summer sun. Since the temperatures soared into the 90's this weekend, I was brought right back to those times, and I craved a good Caprese salad.

Unfortunately, local tomatoes won't be available for some time, but some places are getting in some pretty great tomatoes despite our regional handicap. Of course it isn't easy to pick out a good one, tomatoes might look bright red and pretty from the outside, but I'm sure we've all felt that disappointment of cutting into it to find it's insides pink and mealy rather than red and juicy. Want to know my secret to finding the perfect tomato? The smell. If, when you lift a tomato to your nose, you don't smell much, you can bank on it being just a so so tomato. However if, when you breath in the tomato, if you smell dirt, earth, and the skin still seems to have the warmth of the sun in it, then you know that you have found a good tomato. I know that sounds like poetic bull, but I promise you it works.

A caprese salad is a simple treasure to make. A beautiful tomato, sliced with care, into about 1/4 inch slices. 4-5 large basil leaves, rolled lengthwise, and sliced into ribbons. A clove (or two) of garlic finely chopped.  Display your tomatoes, generously sprinkle the basil over the fruit, and likewise with the garlic.  Drizzle olive oil over the top, crack your black pepper, and if you desire some salt, as the final garnish, and enjoy with a hunk of crusty Italian bread. 

Summer perfection on a plate.


Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

This is definitely summer on a plate! Gorgeous and makes me crave caprese badly!

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

So simple yet so good! It's hard for me to pass up some caprese! Beautiful pictures, btw!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

Love a good caprese salad too. Can't wait for good tomatoes to crop up in the farmer's markets!

Alicia said...

I have a tomato plant on my patio with three little green tomatoes - I cannot WAIT for them to ripen....however, I second the fact that the grocery stores are starting to get some decent 'maters in their stock....had a great one last night!!

Your salad looks delicious...can't wait to make my first homegrown caprese with my tomatoes and basil.

Jen said...

Love the tip about finding good tomatoes. I cannot wait until we get some great local ones.

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