Caprese Salad

One of the simplest of recipes, this one is all about the quality of ingredients, each of which is critial. This may be the only dish I make in which I won't use the cheapest EV olive oil, and I don't think I've ever seen a supermarket tomato that I would use here -- they must be home-grown or from a farmers' market. The mozzarella should be packed in water or brine. Coarse sea salt and crushed black pepper (I use a rolling pin) provide a nice crunchiness against the soft ingredients. And don't get fancy -- skip the balsamic vinegar.

  • 2 pounds tomatoes
  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
  • 6 ounces olive oil
  • 10 basil leaves

Cut the tomatoes into bite-size slices and chunks and arrange on a large platter. Cover with half the salt. Pull the mozzarella into small pieces (do not slice) and spread around the tomatoes. Drizzle the olive oil over the salad and add the remaining salt and pepper. Cover with the basil, torn into small pieces (do not slice or chop). Allow to sit long enough for the tomato juice to be released and to mix with the oil. Serve at room temperature.