Jan likes caprese salad, which is tomatoes, mozzarella, onion, olives and basil in a light vinaigrette. Usually I go to La Villa, a very good Italian deli in Willow Glen and pay through the nose for a very small portion. While La Villa makes a good salad, I decided that I could make it cheaper and fresher.
My tomato plants are lacking in fresh tomatoes, so I went to Trader Joe’s and found some mini heirloom tomatoes. When I made this salad last time I used regular balsamic vinegar. This darkened the mozzarella and seemed unappealing. I tried white balsamic this time. I am also trying lemon thyme, rather than French thyme in the recipe.
Note: I left all the tomatoes whole in this salad. While that was visually appealing, with the multicolored small tomatoes, they were hard to stab with a fork (they kept sliding away). The salad was also much less moist than my previous caprese salads. If you prefer your salad juicy and easy to eat cut all of the tomatoes in half.
Karl’s Caprese Salad II
30 mini heirloom tomatoes (Trader Joes)
¼ red onion, sliced thin
8 oz. mozzarella fresca, ciliegine (cherry sized)
½ cup pitted ripe black olives
2 Tbs. olive oil
1½ Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp. fresh lemon thyme
1 tsp. black pepper
8-10 fresh basil leaves
1. Use the smallest tomatoes, cut any that are larger than the mozzarella balls.
2. Slice the onion thinly and put them and the tomatoes in a medium bowl.
Tip: Last time I used half of the red onion in the salad, but Jan though this was too much.
3. Drain the Mozzarella and olives and add them to the bowl.
4. Put the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, thyme, pepper and salt in a small jar. Cover and shake to mix. Let the dressing sit for at least 10 minutes.
Tip: Use high quality vinegar and oil for this. In an uncooked salad there is no hiding of poor quality flavors.
5. Roll and slice the basil leaves and add them to the salad.
Tip: Cut the basil just before you add the dressing to prevent it from darkening at the cut edges. The acid in the dressing prevents it from oxidizing.
6. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat and mix the vegetables. Let the salad meld for ten minutes.
Tip: Lightly crush the garlic and leave it in the jar, unless you really like lots of garlic.
7. Toss once more and serve with crusty Italian bread.
Tip: You may pour any collected liquid from the salad into a small bowl and diners can dip their bread into it.