Caprese salads are simple by definition, and usually only consist of tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella cheese and olive oil. But here’s the thing… fresh mozzarella, in spite of all of its many virtues, can be a bit of a yawner in the flavor department. In this recipe, the fresh mozzarella is given a little more personality by marinating it in olive oil, garlic, lemon zest and tons of herbs. I think you will find this to be a game changer in all things Caprese. The only thing missing here is a loaf of artisan bread and a bottle of wine….They say that things that grow together go together, and the tomato and basil combination is one of those magical pairings. People have been making Caprese salad for eons because of this, but let’s not forget delicate fresh mozzarella cheese is also an integral part. Yes, it’s a really good combination, but to me the cheese just needed a little boost. Just grab some extra virgin olive oil, herbs, plenty of lemon zest and salt & pepper. The first time I tried this, I also added a bunch of fresh lemon juice, and then discovered it made the cheese tough and so decided to add it to the marinade after the cheese was plated and made a dressing out of it. Win – win.
Plating this guy is half the fun, especially if you can find as many different sizes and colors of tomatoes you can get your hands on. Now is an especially good time to do this, since perhaps either you or many of your friends has grown so many different tomatoes that they are afraid to go into their gardens. We have about 20 different varieties in our garden, and at this point I am desperately searching for anybody who looks willing to take a few. I have been known to leave a box at my local Starbucks and run out the door – hey, it works!
Plate them up, add some lemon juice to your marinade and drizzle over the top, and grab a loaf of crusty bread. Now that’s what I call summer.
Happy Caprese everyone! Thanks so much for reading our blog today. xoxoxox
- FOR THE MARINATED MOZARELLA
- 1-cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh ‘soft’ herbs (oregano, parsley, tarragon, thyme, savory, marjoram, or a combination of whatever suits your taste) OR about 2 tablespoons of your favorite dried herb combination
- Zest from 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns (optional)
- Kosher or sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (for serving)
- FOR THE SALAD
- 6-7 vine ripened tomatoes – as many different colors and sizes as you can get your hands on
- 1 pound of fresh mozzarella cheese
- About 20 fresh basil leaves
- FOR THE MARINATED MOZARELLA
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, chopped herbs, lemon zest, peppercorns, red pepper flakes and salt.
- Slice the fresh mozzarella into ¼ inch slices and lay in a shallow bowl. Pour the marinade over the top and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
- TO MAKE THE SALAD
- Slice the tomatoes and arrange on a platter.
- Remove the fresh mozzarella from the marinade and arrange on the plate among the tomatoes.
- Arrange the fresh basil leaves around the cheese and tomatoes – NOTE: If you want to, go on ahead and thinly slice the basil leaves, but don’t slice until right before serving since they have a tendency to get very dark and look unappetizing quickly after being cut.
- Take the reserved marinade, stir in the 6 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, and adjust seasonings to taste. You can either drizzle this over the entire platter, or serve on the side as a dressing.