During summer, when our heirloom tomatoes are thriving, there is nothing I like more than a classic Caprese salad. --- It's so simple, yet so delicious: no more than sliced ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, salt, pepper, basil and olive oil.
In winter, when ripe tomatoes are hard to come by, I like to use cherry or grape tomatoes to assemble an easy "mini Caprese" salad or side dish. It makes for an attractive alternative to the standard "stacked" Caprese salad.
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 lb. fresh mozzarella, preferably small cheese balls called perline
freshly cracked black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
4-5 fresh basil leafs, minced or cut into a chiffonade
This version of a Caprese salad couldn't be easier. Simply slice the grape or cherry tomatoes in half. Then, dice your fresh mozzarella or use whole pearl-size mozzarella balls (perline).
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes and mozzarella with kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste.
Just before serving, drizzle some olive oil over the Caprese and top with fresh basil leaves. You could also drizzle balsamic on the salad, but that's not typically done in Italy and I don't like the way it discolors the mozzarella.
I found a bottle of Martini & Rossi sparkling Rose wine to be a good partner for the Caprese salad.
Photos by Ted Scheffler