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
Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction
(amounts will be based on the size salad you want to make)
fresh local heirloom tomatoes (or tomatoes of choice)
pearilini or ciliegine mozzarella
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: