The Classic Caprese Salad

Our tomatoes are blessedly blight-free and in full form right now. We've been picking candy-sweet Pink Caspians and tangy Early Cascades, and of course our favorite way to eat them is in a caprese salad. Here's another look at that quintessential classic of the summer table.

A caprese salad is very simple: It's just a layered, composed salad of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil, with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. The salt brings out the juices of the tomatoes to run together with the sweet, milky cheese and the basil gives everything a fresh herbal spiciness. Some people add a hint of good balsamic vinegar or a dusting of Parmesan, but we usually avoid these now and just let the tangy flavor of the tomatoes carry the dish.

We adore this salad, and we are hard put to find a better use for garden-fresh tomatoes. Yes, eventually the tomatoes will go into tossed pasta and on pizza, but for now, this is all we're doing with the tomatoes from the garden.

What about you? Have you had a caprese salad yet this summer? What's your favorite kind of mozzarella to eat with it? We go for the softest, freshest whole-milk mozzarella we can find; rubbery mozzarella has no place in this salad.

More on the caprese salad:
Appetizer: Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers with Basil Oil
Recipe: Insalata Caprese
Simple Summer Food: Caprese Salad

(Image: Faith Durand)