The Rising Spoon: Heirloom Cherry Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

Monday, July 15, 2013

Heirloom Cherry Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

One of the things I enjoy most about summer is heirloom tomatoes. Specifically, organic heirloom cherry tomatoes. They taste like candy. Juicy and  
with LOTS of flavor. Totally unlike the generic, perfectly round, super red tomatoes you find at the supermarket year-round.

Why are those tomatoes available all year long? Because they have been hybridized to withstand shipping. Typically from Mexico, where they're grown in the warmer weather why we experience winter in the Northern Americas. In other words, these generic tomatoes have been bred with thick skin and no taste.

What's the point of eating a tomato if it doesn't taste like a tomato? This is why it's important to take advantage of heirloom tomatoes while they're in season. Check out my post, Let's Talk Tomatoes, Specifically Heirlooms, to find out more about my favorite tomatoes.

Heirlooms are so tasty by their lonesome that I generally avoid pairing them with strong foods or herbs, unless they're complimentary. Fresh mozzarella is a perfect accompaniment because it has a mild, creamy taste that doesn't overpower the tomato's sweetness. Eat them together in one bite and those two flavors create a mouth-explosion, fondly referred to as a mouthgasm.

If you're entertaining and want to look snazzy, chop a bit of fresh basil, drizzle it with quality balsamic vinegar and EVOO and season it lightly. The vivid, contrasting colors will impress your guests and the fresh flavors will keep them reaching for more.

But if you're solo...don't even bother. Grab a fat cherry tomato, a hunk of mozzarella and a piece of torn basil. Place the basil in between the tomato and cheese, close your eyes and pop it in your mouth. Chew and savor, my friend. Tastes like summer.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato, Kalamata Olive and Fresh Mozzarella Salad
Serves: 1-2  
A simple, yet flavorful dish that celebrates quality summertime ingredients like organic heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves.

Ingredients
Handful of organic heirloom cherry tomatoes, washed and stems removed
2-4 ounces of fresh mozzarella, drained and torn into smaller pieces if necessary
Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn into smaller pieces
A few splashes of quality, aged balsamic vinegar
A few drizzles of quality, extra virgin olive oil
--I recommend this brand  of olive oil since it passed the EVOO Test--
Sea salt, to taste (I recommend Pink HimalayanCeltic or Utah sourced salt)
Cracked black pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Small handful of pitted kalamata olives

Directions
Wash, dry and remove the stems from the cherry tomatoes. Place them in the bottom of a bowl. Add 2-4 ounces of fresh mozzarella, cut into bite sized pieces to the bowl. If it's soaking in water, drain and pat dry. We don't want any excess moisture since we're adding olive oil and we don't want to water down the flavor.

Grab a handful of fresh basil leaves and chop with a knife or tear into small pieces by hand. If you want the basil in every bite, cut the basil leaves thinly. Drizzle everything with a little bit of good extra-virgin olive oil and splash it with balsamic vinegar, to your taste.

Sprinkle with sea salt, cracked black pepper and crushed red pepper. Lightly stir with a utensil to incorporate the seasonings. Add in a small handful of pitted kalamata olives last, right before eating. You don't need to season them because they already have a lot of flavor.

Notes & Tips
Don't have kalamata olive on hand or aren't a fan? Simply leave them out. The tomato and fresh mozzarella bowl will still taste fantastic.

Because you're only using a few ingredients, I recommend a higher quality extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Spend a few extra dollars on both and you'll be rewarded with products that have A LOT more depth of flavor, which will in turn make your final dish sing!

Real Food Resources

Real Food Survival Guide For Busy Moms

"This e-book is perfect for busy folks who need help maximizing their time in the kitchen so they can fix nutritious, real food snacks and meals to eat at home and on the go. In addition to realistic advice, this book provides recipes for real food staples you can make in bulk ahead of time, which ensures you always have nutrient dense foods at hand. And it’s especially helpful if you’re interested in implementing homemade fermented foods into your diet."

From Scratch: Easy Recipes for Traditionally Prepared Whole-Food Dishes 

"If you're looking for a cookbook that is as entertaining as it is delicious, then look no further. From Scratch is a breath of fresh air when it comes to learning how to traditionally prepare and cook nutritious food. Shaye does not disappoint in her recipes and this cookbook reads like a letter from a close friend. These meals are easily prepared and yes, easily devoured."  

Question for Discussion: What's your favorite way to use local, in-season cherry tomatoes?

Answer in the comments section below or or join the conversation on The Rising Spoon Facebook page. Prefer Twitter? And feel free to circle me on Google Plus or follow me on Pinterest.


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