One of my favorite easy salads is a simple concoction of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
I have had this in various forms: thick slices of large tomato layered with slabs of mozzarella cheese; tiny tomatoes with creamy white pearls of mozzarella; chunks of juicy romas with long shreds of cheese on top.
All are were slightly different, but all were good.
I even had one at a great restaurant in Sonoma wine country that used a mild sheep's milk feta instead of the mozzarella.
I have not had a Caprese salad in quite a while. I used to order it at restaurants a lot, but once I started making it at home, I sort of stopped that. I like how easy it is to customize this to what I am craving.
Yesterday while I was at Whole Foods picking up a couple things for dinner, I saw this little basket of mixed tomatoes.
Red, orange and yellow... all beautiful and bite-size.
It was too pretty not to buy.
And the idea of sweet little tomatoes with creamy fresh mozzarella began to sound lovely.
I used white balsamic vinegar. Regular balsamic works in this, too. It will just be a little darker and a slightly heavier flavor. You also can just use a bit of your favorite Italian dressing or vinaigrette.
Also, the herb I use depends on what looks best or what flavor I want. Sometimes I use basil. This time I used oregano.
Sometimes I use a little garlic. This time I did not. Again, it is all what the mood calls for.
In the past, when I have made this with large tomatoes, I have used the drier type of mozzarella, cut into slices to place atop the tomato slices, then top it with the dressing.
More often when I make this I use the mozzarella that comes packed in water. I like the texture better, and the flavor. This time I bought mozzarella pieces the size of cherry tomatoes.
Here is the simple version I made last night. I did not really measure this stuff. It's a taste thing for me. The sweetness of the tomatoes will determine how much or little salt and pepper and herbs I add.
Let your taste buds and the number of people you want to serve be your guide here and make it to your liking.
Jill's late-summer Caprese salad
Red, orange and yellow grape/cherry tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
white balsamic vinegar
sea salt flakes and fresh black pepper to taste
fresh mozzarella cheese
Wash tomatoes, remove any stems then cut each in half and place in a bowl. You want the juices here. They combine with the oil and vinegar to make the dressing.
Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Add a splash of the oil and vinegar and toss gently.
Then try it, and adjust to your taste.
Add the oregano.
Taste it again. Adjust the seasoning and oil and vinegar as needed.
You can serve this immediately or let it sit a while. I put mine in the fridge for about an hour.
I also made a little extra to have for lunch the next day. It will keep overnight just fine.
To serve I cut the mozzarella pieces in half and put them on a small plate.
Then I spooned tomatoes on top of that and drizzled some of the oil/vinegar mixture over that.
The oil and vinegar mixed with the juice from the tomatoes makes a good amount of dressing for this.
I added a piece of a good crusty bread to the plate and used that to mop up some of that dressing.
It was an excellent starter to dinner. It's light, but substantial with the cheese in there. The flavors are so fresh and so bright and clean. It's a perfect, beautiful late-summer plate.