“Tomato Caprese salad can be just okay or absolutely delicous depending on how you use in the ingredients.” - Barefoot Contessa
And she’s entirely right. Ina Garten is one of my favorite chefs. Starting with the best ingredients and cooking simply without a ton of ingredients brings out the best flavors in foods. That’s how my mother always cooked, and it’s how some of the best cooks cook today. Every summer, I used to go home and my dad would bring out the best tomatoes from local farms in New England. We would slice them and layer them with creamy buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil from the garden, Italian EVOO and a special aged balsamic from Italy. We would eat outside with a good bottle of red, crusty Italian bread, and watch the sunset. Heaven on earth.
Here’s my dad’s recipe for tomato salad:
● 4-5 large summer beefsteak heirloom tomatoes sliced thin. Salt adequately to “bleed” them as my mother would say, or draw out the juices.
● Buffalo mozzarella or Burrata. Make sure you buy the kind that is still in the brine as it’s the freshest and juiceiest with best consistency.
● 10-15 basil leaves from the garden, chopped.
● Drizzle of good Italian olive oil. (Dad's Choice: Italian Ranieri Gold Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
● Drizzle of thick balsamic. (Dad's choice: Gemma Nera from Italy).
● Sprinkle of coarse sea salt
● Fresh pepper
● Sprinkle of dried oregano
● Loaf of crusty Italian bread (In Massachusetts, we like this company called Iggy’s which is located in Cambridge, or any of the Italian breads from the North End, especially in Boschetto’s or Parziale’s Bakery).
● Layer all ingredients evenly on a large white platter or dish. Start with tomatoes, then mozzarella, then basil, drizzle with lots of EVOO, and a touch of balsamic. Finish with a sprinkle of dried oregano or fresh if you have in your garden. Serve immediately with crusty italian bread.