Italian Caprese Salad is made for the summer season. This classic dish alternates vibrant red tomato spokes with slices of creamy mozzarella and fragrant bright green basil leaves. It kind of reminds you of the color of the Italian flag.
You don’t even need a recipe for this well-loved salad. Pick the freshest, ripe tomatoes as the star component. Alternate tomato slices with sliced fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh green basil leaves and you are good to go. All you need for garnishing is some fruity olive oil and salt and pepper.
Sometimes I like to freshen up the idea and give it a new look. Years ago I enjoyed a tomato and watermelon salad in East Hampton and thought it would be the basis of a good alternative to the classic Caprese Salad.
Beautiful on a buffet table, this variation s a welcome surprise. Here, large red, ripe tomatoes are sliced and overlapped on a platter. The refreshing and texturally pleasing watermelon, cucumber and feta relish is dolloped on top of each tomato. Make sure to have a couple of large spoons for ease in serving.
Summer Caprese Salad with Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Relish
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 cups ½-inch diced seedless yellow or red watermelon
1 ½ cups ½-inch diced European cucumber
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon finely chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups mixed greens like spring greens or arugula or mache
6 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes
- Combine all of the relish ingredients in a medium bowl carefully, making sure to not break the watermelon into smaller pieces. Reserve.
- In a small bowl, add the red wine vinegar. While whisking, slowly stream in the olive oil and continue whisking until the dressing is emulsified. Add the chives and season with salt and pepper.
- Just before serving. Arrange the mixed greens in the center of a large circular platter. Cut the tomatoes into 1 ½- inch slices and arrange on a platter in a circular pattern overlapping.
- Pour about half of the dressing over the relish and mix to combine. Taste for seasoning. Place a dollop of relish on each tomato slice. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve immediately.
Advance Preparation: Relish and dressing may be made up to 2 hours ahead, covered and kept at room temperature. It is best to finish this just before serving.
The Clever Cook Could:
- Substitute diced or tiny balls of fresh mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese for the feta cheese.
- This can be doubled. Use a very large platter or 2 platters.
- You can make these into towers. Place a slice of tomato on the bottom of a salad plate and then a dollop of relish. Repeat 1 more time.