A Simple Caprese Salad

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

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I saw a photograph of this in one of my Donna Hay books the other day and it just spoke to me.  She always presents her food so beautifully and it's usually pretty healthy.  She used heirloom tomatoes in hers.  I do not have heirloom tomatoes, but I did manage to get my hands on some really lovely vine ripened tomatoes the other day that were the perfect size for this.

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With something which is as simple as this you want to make sure you use the freshest and best quality ingredients that you can.  I have fresh basil in my herb garden and I used a really nice mozzarella cheese.  

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Premium quality extra virgin olive oil (Gaea extra virgin Greek Kalamata), maldon sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper . . . premium quality balsamic vinegar.  Not the most expensive one, but not a cheap one either . . . good quality Spanish black olives.

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I always make my own croutons.   No stale loaf of good bread ever gets wasted in my house.  I always cut it into cubes and then toss it with some olive oil and seasonings (a bit of salt, pepper, garlic powder, some herbs) and then I roast them on a baking tray in a hot oven until they are crisp.  I could eat them like potato chips.  They are that good.

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I did reserve the stems from my tomatoes so I could put them on top when I went to serve them, but I also saved some tiny sprigs of basil, which also looked lovely.  And that way you don't have to worry about anyone eating them.

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This was a beautiful salad.  Pretty to look at.   Simple to make.   Delicious to the taste.  Well presented.  I would make this again, and again.  It made the perfect light summer lunch.

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*A Simple Caprese Salad*
Serves 2

Proof positive that simple ingredients beautifully presented can actually be quite impressive.

2 large vine-ripened tomatoes (reserve the stems if you can)
1 large ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
80g good black olives (1/2 cup)
2 fresh sprigs of basil
1 1/2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar
coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper
crisp croutons to serve (I make my own)  

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Bring a saucepan of water to the boil.   Cut a small x on the bottom of each tomato and immerse them into the boiling water for about 30 seconds.  Scoop out and place into a bowl of ice water to cool.   Using a sharp knife, and beginning at the x, peel away the skin and discard.  Cut a thin sliver from off the bottoms of each tomato so that they will stand upright.   Have ready two chilled salad plates.   Arrange one tomato on each plate.  You can either garnish the top with reserved tomato stems or some small basil leaves which look like a stem.  Arrange the mozzarella, torn around the tomatoes, placing half on each plate.  Add half of the olives to each plate and a basil sprig.   Make a little pile of the salt and pepper.  Place half of the olive oil and half of the vinegar into a very tiny bowl and place onto each plate.   Add a pile of crisp croutons.   Serve immediately.   

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Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar to eat, along with a sprinkle of the salt and pepper.  

I would serve this to my favourite people without blinking an eye!  I am sure they would love it.


  1. I have never tried with a peeled tomato!sounds like a plan

  2. I think I actually prefer it with a peeled tomato Monique! xxoo

  3. This is one of my very favorite things to eat. We have basil growing this summer so I've been making a version of this. I make a mixture of olive oil, a couple cloves of garlic (pressed), salt and Italian seasoning. I let that sit for about an hour. Then on a plate,I cut thick tomato slices and drizzle some of the mixture on it and making sure to get some of the garlic on it too.
    Then add fresh mozzarella cheese and drizzle more oil mixture. Then I add cut-up fresh basil to the top. I serve it instead of a salad sometimes. People always love it.

  4. Ohh Valerie, that sounds so delicious! I am not surprised people love it! I had planted Basil, but it didn't come up. I then planted a plant from the grocery store, but I don't think it is taking. It doesn't winter very well here! So summer I try to get as much fresh basil as I can! xxoo

  5. This was lunch yesterday - just perfect for a hot summer day. I was intrigued by Valerie's dressing, so I made that up to add a little more to the dish. Basil and tomato are at their best right now so this was ideal. Simple ingredients, but put together in a way that is so easy and yet so appealing, both visually and as far as taste goes. I love food like this.


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