It's summer, which means it's time for Caprese salad. But wait, you say, it's still too early for caprese. The tomatoes, they aren't ready yet. No worries, I bought some beautiful little cherry tomatoes at the farmers' market worthy of this classic dish and I could wait no longer.
You're right, though. Caprese, or salad in the style of Capri, the Italian island, is a late-summer meal, meant for when the tomatoes are in season and fully ripe. To use pale, mealy, grocery store tomatoes will deliver sad, sad results, and is not recommended.
In my opinion, the secret to Caprese, and to just about all good cooking, is to use the best ingredients and season everything separately. Start by slicing your tomatoes, then drizzle with really good extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Let them sit for a bit.
Then, slice your fresh mozzarella into cubes, and repeat the process. It's really important to season the cheese, otherwise it will be bland. You can mix the tomatoes and mozzarella together at this point. Slice some fresh basil and add to the mix. If you'd like, you can stop here and eat.
But, I also had some local lettuce, so figured why not top it with the Caprese. You don't even need to add dressing, since the marinade from the Caprese will dress the salad. The final touch? A squeeze of fresh lemon or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, to brighten the flavors.
This is what summer tastes like. What are you favorite summer dishes? I'm looking for some inspiration.