Having just gotten back from Matt Hassett’s funeral I was hungry, and I needed something to jar me out of my depressed state. I couldn’t handle anything heavy as the weather is still pretty brutal, so Rachel cut up one of the big tomatoes we got from Ploch’s Farm in Clifton, picked a bunch of nice basil leaves from our garden and made us a nice Caprese Salad. Here’s how she does it:
Make only in the summer with vine ripened, preferably home grown, tomatoes! This can be made fresh, layering it on the serving plates, or do as I do and prepare it 30-60 minutes ahead, allowing the juices to develop.
|1/3||c||Extra Virgin Olive Oil (best quality)|
|Fresh Basil leaves|
|Crusty Bread (for service)|
Take a big juicy home grown or farm stand, locally grown tomato (to be fair to those not in New Jersey). Frankly, this really isn’t worth doing with store bought tomatoes unless they are really ripe and in season. For one large tomato you’ll need one small (or half a large) ball of fresh mozzarella. Slice both into 1/4 inch slices. Pour some salt & grind some pepper into a small mise en place dish, taste the mozz. If it is salty, then use equal proportions of salt to pepper, if unsalted, use about 2:1 salt:pepper. You’ll need about 1/3 cup of best quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and several sprigs of basil, fresh from your garden.
Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a tall container, I use a quart size deli/soup container. Add a small sprinkle of S&P and a basil leaf or two (tear the big ones, leave the small pretty ones whole) and lay on a slice of tomato. Sprinkle of s&p, drizzle of oil, basil, slice of mozz. Spinkle of s&p, oil, basil, tomato. Continue until you use everything up. If you have leftover oil, pour it on. Put an airtight lid on the container.
Allow to marinate while you get the rest of the meal together. Turn the container over occasionally. Serve, layering the tomatoes & mozz, pour on a little of the oil/juices, eat with a slice of crusty bread. You can sprinkle on a bit of vinegar at service, I prefer a mild one, like Sherry Vineger from Spain, or maybe a good red wine vinegar over Balsamic. Mmm, summer on a plate.
In my mind, there’s no more honorable way to treat a Jersey Tomato.