***So, if you haven't noticed lately, I am seriously in love with Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. I hope you're not getting tired of the Ad Hoc postings...there are certainly a few more recipes that I can't wait to share with you!
Shh...don't tell anyone...
This Tomato & Mozzarella Salad caught my eye because it looked so fresh and delicious...Plus, I love, love, love caprese salad. We ate a caprese salad in Rome, Italy that was especially wonderful. The flavors were vibrant...the tomatoes were fresh...and the mozzarella was perfectly soft.
This particular recipe makes a gorgeous presentation, and it just gets better after the first day...once the flavors really have time to meld together. Mr. Keller recommends serving the mozzarella on the side of this salad, but I mixed mine right in. Thomas also includes instructions for making your own mozzarella. While this is something that I definitely plan to tackle one day, I did go ahead and use store-bought mozzarella this time around.
Shh...don't tell anyone...
Adapted from Thomas Keller's "Tomato and Handmade Mozzarella Salad"
Source: Ad Hoc at Hoc; Pages 148 - 149
16 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
3-3/4 pounds assorted medium to large tomatoes
1/2 pound assorted cherry and/or grape tomatoes, such as Sweet 100s or Sun Gold
1/2 medium Armenian cucumber or 1/4 Engalish cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
2 tablespoons Basil Oil (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
12 to 15 small basil leaves, such as Italian, opal, and/or lemon lime
Fleur de sel
I made a dressing by mixing 1 part balsamic vinegar with 2 parts olive oil (or about 1/3 cup vinegar + 2/3 cup olive oil.) I drizzled this dressing over the entire salad before serving.
Core the large tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Halve or quarter the small tomatoes, depending on their size; leave some of the small stems attached. Peel the cucumber and cut into desired shapes.
To make the basil cream, if desired, whip the cream in a medium bowl until it just holds soft peaks. Fold in the basil oil. (The cream should not be refrigerated, or the texture will change.)
Spread the tomato slices on a baking sheet or work surface, with the wider side of the tomatoes facing up, and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Turn the slices over, brush lightly with the basil cream, and season with salt and pepper. (The basil cream will add just a small amount of hidden flavor to the dish.) Drizzle olive oil over the small tomatoes and the cucumber.
Arrange the sliced tomatoes on a large platter, basil cream side down. Layer the cucumber slices and small tomatoes on top, and drizzle with olive oil. Scatter the onion and basil over the salad and sprinkle fleur de sel around the platter.
Serve with the mozzarella and remaining basil cream on the side.