Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad


This is my go-to summer dish. I make it several times a week, either as an appetizer using cherry tomatoes and the smallest ciliegine mozzarella balls, or as a meal by itself using the largest slicing tomatoes and the biggest ball of mozzarella. I often fall back on the version with the cherry tomatoes to take to potlucks. The secret to making this dish to-die-for is using the best possible ingredients, naturally.

Here, Native Son Farm's heirloom tomatoes take center stage. Then I use gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, which is now available at a specialty oil-and-vinegar shop in Oxford, at a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil. The gourmet versions are an investment, to be sure, but they really pay dividends in bringing out the flavor and sweetness of the tomatoes. Either drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad just before you serve it, or, for more flavor, marinate just the tomatoes in the vinaigrette for an hour or more before adding the mozzarella. Then, sprinkle with freshly ground sea salt.

Finally, I like to pick the basil from my garden the minute before the salad goes on the table. Voila!