Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Caprese Salad Deconstructed

Yesterday was just plain HOT and as a Pacific Northwesterner, well let's just say it wasn't pretty. Baggy sundress and bangs clipped back with bobby pins was my fashion ensemble for the day - not the most classy. Anyway, I couldn't decide what to make for dinner that evening and I knew the use of the oven was a definite out. I also knew Lucky was stuck 200 feet up in the air, with no A/C and covered in grease from a tower crane malfunction so I wanted something that was cooler for him to eat when he got home. I went to my good ol stand by which also happens to be Lucky's most favorite salad. I will say the kids aren't very keen on this salad, actually they can't stand it so that is a bummer. This is my version of Caprese Salad which is basically made from very simple but flavorful ingredients. This is a great seasonal salad when the produce is peak. Quality is key here because they are so few ingredients, you really want to make it pop. Take some lovely tomatoes - preferably local and vine ripened because the flavor will be so much better. For a good sized salad I use about two and I slice them about 1/4 inch thick. Layer them on a nice plate. Next, take some FRESH mozzarella. No pre shredded, Kraft brand crud. You want to use fresh mozzarella packed in water. Speaking of which, my goal is to start making my own! Slice the mozzarella thinly and layer along side the tomatoes. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over all and grab some aged balsamic vinegar and liberally douse the cheese and tomatoes - you don't want it swimming in balsamic and olive oil but you do want it nicely coated between the layers to marinate. Grind salt and pepper on top, then julienne chop some fresh basil and sprinkle over all for the final garnish. I let it marinate for a bit to allow the flavors to meld and develop. While it is doing that I slice up a baguette, drizzle olive oil over the slices and lightly toast it. Then when it is somewhat crunchy, I take a peeled garlic clove and rub it directly on the bread. I place it back in the toaster oven to crisp up. Now you are ready. Serve this salad layered on the bread slices and life will be good again. My photo does show avocado it because we were also having veggie burgers and this fabulous salad layered on a veggie burger is pretty much a show stopper. Making this kind of food during the summer leaves much more time for things like getting my nails done, oh wait I mean swimming with my kiddos in the lake!

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