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Simple is Best: Caprese Salad

One of my favorite summer salads is Caprese Salad. It sounds fancier than it is. All you need to make it: fresh ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of salt and pepper.

Some people marinate the tomatoes and cheese, but past experience has taught me that marinating it can make even the freshest tomatoes turn a bit mushy.

I just slice a tomato and layer it with slices of fresh mozzarella and chopped basil, then drizzle with a little olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

This salad was made with fresh basil and a delicious Black Japanese Trifele Heirloom Tomato picked fresh from my tiny kitchen garden.

Admittedly, the caprese salad pictured here has a bit more cheese than tomato, but this was the last of the fresh mozzarella, so…why not?

For the super lazy cooks among us, this non-recipe recipe can be made even easier by using pre-sliced fresh mozzarella and not chopping the basil.

I’ve also seen caprese kabobs where cherry tomatoes and small balls of fresh mozzarella are skewered along with fresh basil leaves, then drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Honestly, with these ingredients, it’s impossible to go wrong.

What’s your favorite summer salad?

 

 

 

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What my garden’s growing: Violet Jasper

So far my mini-garden has yeilded loads of fresh herbs, a few snow peas, some green beans and a few cucumbers. While there are lots of little peppers on the red pepper plant, my zucchini plants are big and leafy and have produced tons of blossoms, but so far no actual zucchini. Something must be wrong there.

This year I planted three heirloom tomatoes: Amish Paste, Gajo de Melon, and this beautifully colorful Violet Jasper:

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Sometimes the problem with heirloom varieties is knowing when they’re ripe. With “violet” in the name, I left my first few tomatoes on until they had a purplish hue. By then, they were overly sweet and a little mushy. I just picked that beauty above (along with some slightly riper ones and another cucumber).

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It was delicious.

The Amish Paste plant is big and healthy, but its tomatoes are still green. My poor Gajo de Melon doesn’t seem to like where I planted it. It hasn’t grown very large, and while it has lots of tomatoes, they’re barely the diameter of a nickle. They’re supposed to be the size of cherry tomatoes, just like the Violet Jaspers. We’ll see what happens.

For now I’m glad to have the first haul of eight nice Violet Jasper tomatoes – and now I know to pick them when they look like the photos above.

How are your gardens growing?

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