Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad with Basil Microgreens

The tomato harvest is in full swing! Tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors are available right now at market. When you’ve had your fill of them plain (the first ones are so good just as is, perhaps sliced, with a little salt), try a caprese salad.

 

A traditional caprese salad is pretty simple: tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese, and balsamic dressing. Tomatoes, as I said, are plentiful at market, as are bunches of basil. Mozzarella cheese, however, is not. I could make my own with milk from my milk share, but I really like using that fresh. I thought about goat cheese, but that has not been available recently. I’ll try it when it is! I ending up getting a wedge of Cumberland cheese. It’s a very mild cheese, and works with the flavors of the salad in some of the same ways mozzarella does. It’s a creamy protein balancing the sharp and acidic tastes from the basil, tomatoes, and vinegar.

 

For fun, I also changed up the typical large tomatoes and Italian basil of the typical caprese salad. Troy Teets and I talked this winter about using basil microgreens and cherry tomatoes. I was excited to see last week that they were both available. Troy had not only round cherry tomatoes, but several shapes, sizes, and colors. They are so pretty, especially along with the green of the basil and the cheese’s cream color.

 

While cherry tomatoes often have a more intense flavor than their larger relatives, basil microgreens have a more subtle flavor than the full-sized leaves. I often find basil to be a bit sharp for me, so I love the less intense flavor. I found I could use more leaves than I might otherwise, and I enjoyed the extra greens. Jeffrey prefers the stronger flavor, so he added some more, full-size leaves to his salad.

 Microgreens are tasty and cute!  Photos by Heather Cross

Microgreens are tasty and cute!

Photos by Heather Cross

Basil and basil microgreens are not just for caprese salad, though! Add a sprinkle or more to cooked summer squash, scrambled eggs, or as a garnish to any Italian dish. There are plenty of varieties besides Italian basil, such as lime or Thai. Each has a unique flavor and it’s worth experimenting to find out what you like.

 

I loved how my micro caprese salad turned out. I’m including a recipe for what I did, then the options I found from around the internet. Once you’ve had your fill of a simple tomato salad, try other in-season and pantry items for variety.

 All summer in a bowl

All summer in a bowl

Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad with Basil Microgreens

Inspired by Delightful E Made’s Italian Caprese Tomato Salad

 

Ingredients:

2 pints cherry or other small tomatoes

2 packs of basil microgreens

8 oz Cumberland cheese, in bite-sized, thin slices

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

  1. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar, plus salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

  2. Slice the smaller tomatoes in half, larger ones in thirds or quarters. Clip the basil greens, reserving some for garnish.

  3. Toss tomatoes, basil microgreens, cheese, and dressing in a serving bowl. Start with a small amount of dressing and add more as desired. Taste and adjust seasonings, then add the remaining basil on top as a garnish. Serve immediately.

 

Options:

  1. Use goat cheese or fresh mozzarella instead of the Cumberland. Slice or cube the mozzarella, or buy it bite-sized.

  2. Use full-sized tomatoes, chopped or sliced. Or a combination of cherry and large. You may need to drain the salad when using larger, heirloom tomatoes.

  3. Add chopped or sliced cucumbers, avocados, strawberries, and/or other fruits and/or veggies that appeal to you.

  4. Add prosciutto or other meat for a heartier dish.

  5. Use regular basil, in place of, or in addition to, the microgreens. The flavor will be stronger so keep that in mind when adding it. Try something other than Italian basil, such as lime or Thai.

  6. Make a balsamic reduction, as in this salad or this one. You can also use the tomatoes’ juices in your reduction, as in this recipe.

  7. Skip the vinegar, as in this recipe.

  8. For a vegan salad, leave out the cheese or replace with tofu slices or cubes.

  9. Add pasta or a cooked grain for a one-bowl meal.

  10. Instead of serving immediately, let salad rest for 30 minutes at room temperature to let flavors meld.


Printable recipe here