Easy, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Some of the best salads are the most simple. You don’t always need lots of ingredients or a complex cooking process in order to make something fantastic. This is definitely true when it comes to tomato mozzarella salads. In fact, one of the most popular salads worldwide is the Italian classic salad called Caprese.
The Caprese salad began popping up on menus in the 1950s. The dish began in the Isle of Capri in the Campania region of Italy. It then spread quickly as it’s simplicity and intense flavor became more and more popular. Originally, Caprese was made with cow’s milk mozzarella, tomatoes, and olive oil. The first salads were garnished with arugula and oregano but all of these ingredients quickly changed as each region developed their own version of the salad.
Once the popular salad came to the United States, it was changed again, most often featuring fresh basil rather than arugula and balsamic vinegar as an addition. Cow’s milk mozzarella is often replaced with buffalo mozzarella and salt and pepper are an absolute must. This classic summer salad still graces menus everywhere but now, we thought it was about time we give the standard Caprese salad another makeover.
While fresh basil is great, we wanted to add a few more fresh herbs, making this a very herby, pungent dish. So many herbs pair well with tomatoes and mozzarella that it was hard to pick just one! Cilantro and dill seemed to make the most impact on the salad while still keeping it fresh and light. Thinly sliced red onion also takes this salad to the next level, adding a nice bite and crunch.
Rather than using a drizzle of balsamic to top the salad, we opted for a lemon juice and white wine vinegar combination. In keeping with the Italian roots, we decided to top the salad with fresh grated parmesan. What is better than a cheese salad topped with more cheese?!?
One key to this salad is choosing a high-quality mozzarella. If you are able to find a mozzarella that is made by fresh daily, be sure to buy it. When possible, try to avoid pre-packages mozzarellas as the cheese loses its elasticity, texture, and taste as it ages. Try local Italian markets, Italian restaurants, or a grocery store with a gourmet cheese section. You can also opt to make mozzarella yourself as it is quite easy! Fresh cheese will make a huge difference in your salad.
While we are still fans of the traditional Caprese salad, there is always room for improvement in the culinary world. Try this herby tomato salad and you very well may find that you far prefer the complex flavor profile of this dish to the simplicity of a regular Caprese.
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