Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

We just can’t get enough tomatoes this summer.

Big, red beefsteak tomatoes, oblong juicy grape tomatoes, sturdy romas and ugly heirlooms – we’ve had them all.  We had the most delicious yellow tomatoes from a friend’s garden.  Mild-flavored and juicy, with a bit of salt, oil and basil they were perfect.  I thought for a moment that these would be our favorite tomatoes of the summer.

But then we saw these eye-catching little cherry tomatoes in a variety of summer colors at the Minneapolis farmers market, and all bets were off.  “They are too pretty to eat,” stated the woman next to us.  

The mixed-variety basket was fun to photograph – red, yellow, black, orange and green cherry tomatoes, and yellow, red and orange pear tomatoes.

We added little ciliegine di mozzarella (small, bite-sized mozzarella), basil, salt, and ground black pepper.  Dressed in olive oil, it became a quintessential summer salad.  And to the woman  at the farmers market – we had no problem at all eating it.

Ingredients
2 pints mixed variety cherry tomatoes
2 eight-ounce containers of ciliegine di mozzarella
1 bunch basil
Salt
Ground black pepper
Olive oil

Directions
Serves 4-6

Wash the tomatoes.  Quarter or halve the larger size tomatoes and place them into a salad bowl.  Toss the small ones in whole.  Drain the water from the ciliegine di mozzarella, halve them, and add them to the tomatoes.  Wash the basil and using kitchen shears, snip into pieces over the tomatoes and mozzarella.  Salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle olive oil liberally over the salad.  Allow to sit 15 minutes at room temperature.  Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices.

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La Caprese

Do you remember Homer’s story The Odyssey, when Odysseus ties himself to his ship’s mast in order to not succumb to the call of the Sirens?

Reportedly, Odysseus was near the dramatic cliffs of the south coast of Isola di Capri, the fabulous isle located in Italy’s Bay of Naples, when the enchanting Sirens tried to lure him into those cliffs as they had many a sailor.

A different delicacy from that part of Italy, mozzarella di bufala, has been calling out to us lately, and unlike Odysseus we have succumbed with little restraint.

La Caprese, which takes its name from Isola di Capri is a classic dish that can be used as an appetizer or a second course.  Good mozzarella and flavorful tomatoes are a must.

Ingredients
Mozzarella
Tomatoes
Basil
Olive Oil
Salt
Ground black pepper

Slice your mozzarella 1/4″ thick.  Do the same to your tomatoes.  Arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella, one overlapping  another, on a large plate.  Use a kitchen scissors to snip small pieces of basil, and sprinkle them liberally over the tomatoes and mozzarella.  Salt liberally, and grind black pepper on top.  Drizzle plenty of good extra-virgin olive on top.   Enjoy with good, crusty bread.

We paired our Caprese with a wine from the Campania region, where mozzarella di bufala is also from.   Fiano di Avellino is a white wine with a bright acidity.  The Fiano grape grows in the area’s volcanic soils, giving the wine a distinctive minerality.