Friday, July 27, 2012

heirloom tomato caprese salad with balsamic reduction




As the saying goes, "you are what you eat!"  Well, if that's true, over the last week, I've become a tomato! - the fresh, local, juicy garden variety.  Better yet, I'm dressed with bright green, tender basil leaves, creamy mozzarella, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sweet, balsamic vinegar reduction (yum!)…to complete me, a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper.  I'm so darn pretty!






My recent summer tomato obsession began a week ago.  While stopping to admire a display of huge wheels of parmigiano-reggiano in the gourmet cheese department of my favorite local supermarket, Wegmans, an employee was serving caprese appetizers.  As I became engaged in conversation about the horrible earthquake in Italy last May, where sadly, millions of dollars in parmigiano-reggiano and grand padano cheese wheels were lost, the server continued to offer me the delicious caprese appetizers.  I didn't refuse a second, and a third, and I may have even had a fourth!  Those adorable little bites were made up of a cherry tomato, ciliegine mozzarella, and a basil leaf on a sandwich pick.  After I arrived home, I couldn't get those little treasures off my mind.  I knew what my weekend recipe creation was going to be!






I set out early Saturday morning on a quick jaunt to the farmer's market.  I went from stand to stand picking out the prettiest heirloom tomatoes I could find.  My mind was spinning with the beautiful colors of the salad I was planning.  My next choice was a fresh bouquet of basil, with a scent so wonderful,  I kept sticking my nose in the bag it was sitting in!






After a stop by Wegmans to pick up some yummy pearlini mozzarella, I headed home.  Of course, I bought way more tomatoes than I needed for my salad - when will I learn?  I proceeded to eat tomatoes for lunch and dinner, literally, for the next five days.  The last tomato was devoured Wednesday evening, and I'm ready for more!  "You are what you eat!"






This simple caprese salad is amazing with any tomatoes you choose.  The flavor is divinely enhanced by the balsamic vinegar reduction.  Be sure to make enough reduction to last you several days, because you never know, you may have the same problem I had!






My life as a tomato will continue in my next post, where I can't wait to introduce a scrumptious, summery pasta dish.

Until next time…mangia!  xox

Carol






Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients:
(amounts will be based on the size salad you want to make)

fresh local heirloom tomatoes (or tomatoes of choice)
pearilini or ciliegine mozzarella
basil leaves
balsamic vinegar
sugar (1/4 teaspoon for 1 cup vinegar) - optional
extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground pepper to taste

Create the Balsamic Reduction:

This is a very easy process, just keep a constant eye on it or you'll wind up with one large lump of balsamic vinegar!  Trust me, it's happened to me before, and I was sick a beautiful bottle of balsamic was wasted.  Begin with any amount you'd like.  When completed, it will be 50%-75% reduced from the amount you started with.  I began with 1 cup to yield 1/2 cup of delicious balsamic reduction.

Pour vinegar in a heavy saucepan/frypan, one with a curved bottom is best.  Turn burner on medium - med-high and bring to a boil.  Once it begins to boil, reduce immediately to a simmer, medium to med-low heat.  Whisk in sugar if using.  Watch and whisk every minute or so until syrupy, approximately 10 - 20 minutes, depending on the amount you are reducing.  Remove from heat, cool and pour in a glass container.  Refrigerate any leftover.

Create the Caprese Salad:

Cut your tomatoes into 4, 6 and 8 piece sections, depending on their size.  Add mozzarella and basil leaves.  Drizzle with evoo and balsamic reduction.  Salt and ground pepper to taste.  It's as simple as that!



14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. My biggest fan! Thanks, Mom…you're sweet!!! xox

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  2. Gorgeous photos, Carol! This salad is summer eating at its best - I adore heirlooms and I could drink balsamic reduction on its own!

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    1. Thanks so much, Laura! I'm with you on the balsamic reduction. There is never a drip left on my plate! :)

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  3. Beautiful salad. Makes me miss summer...

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    1. Thanks so much! Makes me miss it too - love those fresh tomatoes! :)

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  4. This looks so delicious! Yum!! I LOVE Wegmans too! They have the BEST cheese selection! Yummy!

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    1. Happy Sunday, Sarah! Thanks so much! This was one of my very early blog posts last July, and I love to re-introduce the great recipes, since only about 3 people knew I existed then! lol I agree, Wegmans rivals any cheese department or deli! They have it all! Enjoy your weekend!

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  5. You've put together all my favorite things in this salad, those teeny mozzarella balls are killer! I literally want to scarf this down for breakfast.

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    1. Sue, you make me laugh!! Thanks for your sweet comment! Those little mozzarella balls are the greatest for this salad! I'll join you in it for breakfast...I love it that much too! Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Memorial Day!

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  6. Try IL Villaggio imported from Italy , no reduction needed.
    T Lyons

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    1. Thanks for the tip, T. Lyons, will have to give that brand a try! :)

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  7. Second time in as many weeks that I have made this. Perfect for a hot climate! I did mix in some quinoa the second time around and loved it just as much. Definitely a staple in our house! Thank you! :)

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by to let me know how much you are enjoying this recipe! I love your addition of quinoa - sounds delicious! …and I agree, staple in my home as well!!

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Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by a cup of mascarpone, and taking the time to leave a comment! I read, smile, and cherish each and every one of them! xox

Carol