Summer is a time for birthdays. In early June we celebrate my birthday and in early July we celebrate David’s. Coming up with an appropriate appetizer, it turns out, can be as simple as making a salad to have with your champagne.
Salad Capresse is the kind of salad that has so few ingredients it’s essential that every ingredient be good. By good, I mean that the salad works when tomatoes are in season. A perfectly ripe tomato at the right time of year (mid-summer ish) will make or break this salad.
Likewise, if you want to enjoy this truly memorable salad, you need to splurge a little and get “good mozzarella.” It feels a little Ina to say, but it really is the truth. Good mozzarella is fresh, and is preferably made by an Italian specialty shop that knows how to make good fresh mozzarella. If you can find it, Mozzarella di Buffalo is the way to go – it has a wonderful subtle flavor because it’s made with water buffalo milk and imported from Italy.
3-5 ripe tomatoes, in season – I used Jersey tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella, Mozzarella Di Buffalo if you can find it
Fresh basil leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, something good quality – I’ve used Di Cecco and Cento brands
“Real” balsamic vinegar, OPTIONAL – I didn’t use this
Slice the tomatoes fairly thick and arrange them on a plate or baking sheet. Lightly salt each slice. Cut the mozzarella into comparatively thinner slices and lay them on top of the tomatoes. Top the mozzarella with a medium to large basil leaf and drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
If you have some real balsamic vinegar – unfortunately expensive – I understand you can also drizzle a little on top along with the olive oil. I’m sure it’s delicious – but if you don’t have any you can leave it off and it will still produce an amazing result.