Summer is here—and with it, the hot days and balmy nights. It’s often too hot to cook so I resort to taking humble dishes and making them my own to keep things interesting.
Summer heat waves inspire salads and one of my favorite salads is the caprese—a traditional Italian salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.
For mine I used juicy, flavorful tomatoes, which are in season and the star of any classic caprese salad. While I favored the time-honored ingredients like mozzarella and fresh basil, I also added a few new and exotic components for an added twist.
Smoked mozzarella adds a summer-inspired depth of flavor, while a drizzle of chili oil lends some sizzle. Because of the smoky flavor and hint of heat, it pairs well with many grilled meats!
Serve with toasted baguette slices on a large cutting board for a rustic spread and this salad is perfect and beautiful as an appetizer, light lunch, or side salad to a summer dinner.
- 1 ½ lbs. heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 6-8 oz. Smoked mozzarella (Trader Joes has a good one)
- ½ cup chopped basil
- Six thin slices of toasted French bread
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. chili oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp. lemon zest, optional
- Rinse tomatoes and halve about ⅔, leaving some whole.
- Slice mozzarella in ¼-inch slices.
- Toast French bread until golden and crispy.
- Arrange tomatoes, mozzarella, and toast on a large platter or cutting board.
- Drizzle with olive and chili oils.
- Top with fresh basil, salt and pepper, and lemon zest if using.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!