I will be the first to admit that I really hated tomatoes as a kid. I did not like the taste or texture and when my older brother announced he hated them I knew I would hate them too. Logical, no? I do distinctly remember once pulling off a cherry tomato from my uncle’s garden and eating it on a dare. I think the dare part hyped it all up and I made a big deal about it further.
But things started to change as I got older and I realized that tomatoes were not Satan’s trick on a large berry. I began to accept it in salsa and then bruschetta. Little pieces of heavily seasoned tomato… okay! Things really changed when I started to date Price. He made a big to do about not liking fish (umm communist!) and I liked to make fun of him for it. But not being able to be a hypocrite, I had to give a little back and start to eat tomatoes. Guess what… I discovered there amazing, intense, tangy taste and how I loved it.
I can still be picky about tomatoes, but it mostly is a texture thing and I have a lot of issues with textures so that is not surprising. Moving on… I have happily gotten to the point there I can slice tomatoes, sprinkle them with salt and eat them just like that. Taking a bite into a firm, sweet tomato melts everything else away. I can be busy in the kitchen making dinner, struggling to keep up with the timing of things, and if I just take a tiny moment to have a wedge of tomato sprinkled with salt, I start to center again and continue with dinner.
I think that Insalata Caprese, salad in the style from Capri, is a simple dish that makes for a great appetizer, or entree when you are too hot to cook. Because this dish it so simple it requires the best ingredients you can get your hands on. You can’t build a base with a watery tomato, or you can’t top a great tomato slice with a store brand plastic coated mozzarella log. Now is this time to skip and use a run of the mill olive oil. You really need an oil that is so golden that it is almost green. Go ahead, treat yourself… you deserve it!
- 4 vine-ripe tomatoes
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, buffalo is preferred
- 1 cup of pesto
- balsamic vinegar
- handful of basil leaves
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Coarse salt and pepper
- Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/4″ thick slices.
- Lay out slices of tomato on a serving platter. Cover each tomato slice with a slice of mozzarella.
- Put a heaving spoonful of pesto on half the slices of mozzarella.
- On the remaining slices, cover with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Top each slice with a piece of torn basil.
- Lightly, drizzle the Extra-virgin olive oil over all the slices.
- Season with salt and pepper.
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