At least once every summer, and usually many more times, we make tomato salad with mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. Here's one from 2009. I know, it's old hat. Ringard. Démodé. Roll your eyes if you want too. But when the tomatoes and basil are fresh from the garden.... well, it's all about the ingredients, isn't it?
I was reading a web page about making the insalata caprese or tomates-mozza a few minutes ago. The writer said that no vinegar of any kind has any business in such a salad. Piffle. A few drops of balsamic or good wine vinegar contrasts with the blandness of the mozzarella cheese. Use it sparingly, and of course use the best olive oil you can get.
In the photo above, you can see that we had two bowls of mozzarella — two different kinds. One is bufala and the other is vache. We wanted to taste the difference between the cheese made from water buffalo milk and cow's milk. There wasn't a big difference in taste but the textures were distinctive. Inconclusive.
Walt had picked some more tomatoes earlier in the day, so some of the ones in the salad had been on the vine two hours before we ate them, and others 24 hours earlier. We used a mix of yellow and red varieties, as you can see in the photos. Sorry I neglected to take a picture of the finished salad, avec feuilles de basilic. Next time...
I kind of agree with the no vinegar thing especially wen the tomato is directly from the vine and has all its flavor.ReplyDelete
I know what you mean but a few drops of balsamic vinegar make everything better.Delete
Personally, the taste of raw mozzarella leaves me cold.....it just tastes like rubber with a hint of cheese....but on a pizza, yum!ReplyDelete
My take on the above is large flakes of Parmesan or similar....peeled off a chunk using a potato sharpener....no need for any "flavouring!"
See my comment to Susan below regarding mozzarella on pizza. Have you had the same problem with excess moisture? Do you use standard supermarket mozzarella or some specialty type?Delete
We don't use vinegar either. But we do have good baguettes to sop up all the olive oil and tomato juice from the bottom of the plate.ReplyDelete
We eat this once a week from June/July to September (tomatoes come earlier in the south). Garden tomatoes are a must, but not being a gardener, I look for the little old local gardeners who sell produce at the market. A friend assured me that folks around here are so "radin"--cheap--that they don't use a drop of fertilizer or pesticide unless they absolutely have to. Practically bio!
In past years we've always had ripe tomatoes starting at the end of July. This year everything is very late because we lost nearly 6 weeks at the beginning of the season.Delete
I LOVE THIS SALADReplyDelete
Thanks for being the only commenter to agree with me!Delete
I think I'll withhold my comments except to say that any salad you and Walt prepare is A-OK in my book. Oh, those tomatoes!Delete
ha ha ha, Chris.Delete
ha ha ha, Chris.Delete
Having had mozzarella at an Italian friend's house last year in Milan I can tell you that freshness is everything with mozza. She said that she had friends who would even have rejected the stuff we were eating as not fresh enough ie not made that morning. I was really interested by how much difference it made eating something that was only a day or two old at her place compared to a supermarket mozza. The supermarket stuff isn't inedible though. You just have to accept that it is what it is. Let's put it this way, the difference isn't so great as say between powdered and fresh milk, or properly leavened bread and supermarket sliced.ReplyDelete
I haven't been to Italy since 1970, so I guess I don't know much about "fresh" mozzarella. I think a touch of vinegar, especially balsamic, balances out the salad, with the bland cheese (which I enjoy) and the fresh ripe tomatoes, not to mention the basil.Delete
We have given up putting mozzarella on pizzas because it releases too much water as it melts. Cantal jeune is better on pizza. We've tried the mozzarella that is packed in a bag of water and the stuff that is dry and shrink-wrapped, but both release too much water and spoil a pizza crust.
Ken, I'll answer your question above here...Delete
I picked up the following tip from a food programme in the '80s....
it recommended drying the mozzie before use... there were no vaccuum-packed or buffalo mozzies then... and only very good supermarkets sold it...
they said to prepare the mozzie as follows:
the day before get it out of the bag and rest it carefully in a non-metallic seive...
in the evening, slice it ready for the next evening's pizza...
place the slices on a plate and put back in the fridge until needed.
This must bring it closer to the fresh, dryer state as gallons of water seems to come out at both stages!! I have dried the slices on a glasscloth in the past.
As a result of all that pfaff I tend to use a mix of emmental and cantal along with lumps of goats cheese now... we've always got a combination of them in the 'fridge... it would have to be a pre-planned, special occasion pizza to do the drying thing again!!
Salvos Pizzaria in Headingley... run by real Italians... opened a deli a few doors up the road... they sold their own, in the restaurant, non-buffalo mozzie. They weren't in liquid, but in aa glass dish.... but, bloody expensive!!
Tomato season is wonderful and this simple salad is wonderful thing. I like to sprinkle a little salt on the tomatos.ReplyDelete
We always salt the sliced tomatoes lightly and let them sit before we put on the olive oil, vinegar, cheese, and basil.Delete
Oh, yum. Roll on summer!ReplyDelete
i vote for vinegar tooReplyDelete
I totally agree, Balsamic vinegar is lovely and does make it better. We used to buy fresh mozzarella from a cheese shop in Buenos Aires and it was so good, I don't eat it much here in the US since it never seems to have the same good taste. The stuff you buy in the grocery fridge , those little rubber balls wrapped in plastic are nothing like "real" mozzarella.ReplyDelete
I like a touch of balsamic vinegar, just wish we had some real mozzarella here in Alabama. We do have good bbq though lol- will have some of that this weekend.ReplyDelete
I'm on board with balsamic as well. Good olive oil and sea salt also do the trick. Your tomatoes look great.ReplyDelete
Oh, yes, yes, YES! Balsamic vinegar with these fabulous, garden-fresh tomatoes with REAL tomato flavor, is heavenly. The mozzarella and basil just provide the most delicious delicate contrast. One of my favorites!ReplyDelete
I'm in the "yes to balsamic vinegar" camp. I currently have a crop of really tasty yellow tomatoes (an heirloom variety called "Kellogg's Breakfast - very meaty), but felt there was just something "wrong" when eating them with no red tomatoes mixed in. It finally occurred to me to stop serving them on white dishes. Lo and behold, they taste so much better served on colored plates! It really is true that you eat with your eyes.ReplyDelete