The Texas summer thermometer is ooching up there into the mid 90s for afternoon highs. I don’t want to heat up the kitchen and cook. So Caprese salad is one of my favorite go-to solutions and it takes advantage of peak season tomatoes and basil.

I avoid looking out to the garden in the middle of the afternoon because I know everything looks wilted in the high heat. However, one herb that thrives in this heat is basil and its sweet heady flavor sharpens as the summer progresses. Also, there’s nothing like a sun ripened tomato! Combine the two, and you have a match made in heaven!

Caprese salad consists of basil, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper. That’s it! Some people drizzle balsamic vinegar on the plate before piling on the ingredients, but I feel that the acidity in the vinegar detracts from the natural sweet acidity of the fresh tomato. If you have cherry tomatoes in the garden or at the Farmer’s Market, choose small mozarella balls. If your tomatoes are the juicy big ones, use buffalo mozarella and slice it.

Choose an attractive platter that shows off the summer colors of your ingredients. Arrange the tomatoes and cheese alternating as shown in the picture. Coarsly chop the basil and sprinkle on top. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Enjoy!

Are you ready to enjoy summer’s garden bounty?

Meantime his (the sun’s) golden face around

He bares to all the garden ground,

And sheds a warm and glittering look

Among the ivy’s inmost nook

Above the hills, along the blue,

Round the bright air with footing true,

To please the child, to paint the rose,

The gardener of the World he goes.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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