Damn the caprese salad. That infernal tomato-basil-mozzarella salad is everywhere. Chain Italian restaurant menus list the “app” next to deep-fried ravioli. Your neighborhood pizza shop serves the combo—in the depths of winter when fresh tomatoes are as rare as string bikinis. And, really, if you’re being honest with yourself, a caprese salad—whehter the tomatoes are fresh or not—is just another excuse to eat more cheese.
But I’m here to tell you something shocking: When the brightest and best tomatoes are in season you don’t even need cheese to enjoy them.
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And the brightest and best tomatoes are in season right now.
All you need is a little extra virgin olive oil for fat, some lemon juice and vinegar for punch, and basil for extra freshness. Salt, pepper, and garlic play backup. Try the tomatoes with fish for a meal or just eat them straight up as an appetizer. That’s it. No cheese needed. Really.
Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Recipe by David Walzog, executive chef of Lakeside Wynn in Las Vegas, NV
What you’ll need:
1 ½ lb. heirloom tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces (about ½” each)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tsp Kosher salt
1 ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cup basil leaves
1 large garlic clove, coarsely chopped
The juice and zest from 1 lemon
How to make it:
1. In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes, ½ cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Cover and reserve at room temperature for 20 minutes.
2. In a blender or food processor, add the basil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and the remaining salt and pepper. Process until smooth.
3. To serve, pour ¼ cup of the basil puree into the center of a serving bowl. Spon the tomato mixture on top. Place cooked fish on top of the tomatoes, followed by more tomatoes. Makes 4 servings.