The Simplest (And Prettiest) Summer Salad

Isn’t that just the most gorgeous salad?  I love the vivid colors of summer tomatoes, black balsamic reduction, creamy white mozzarella, and bright green basil.  When vine ripe tomatoes are at their peak, I like to turn to Caprese Salad as a pot luck dish, or an elegant side dish for any night of the week.

I made this salad for my Mom’s garden party a couple weeks ago, and I’m making it again tomorrow night when Wade and I entertain my parents and two close friends of the family during our small town’s annual festival and fireworks celebration.  It’s a cinch to make a few hours and advance and keep in the fridge until serving time, though it is probably best to keep the balsamic reduction in a separate container until just before serving time so that it looks nice and fresh.  Red tomatoes are beautiful in this salad, but heirloom tomatoes add a nice homey touch and visual appeal

•Approximately 2 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes

•1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese

•A small handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

•1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Simmer the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat until it has reduced by about 2/2 and has a light syrup-like consistency.  Set aside.

Slice the tomatoes thickly and set aside.  Slice the mozzarella cheese into thin slices and set aside.

Layer the tomatoes and cheese slices out in a fan shape on a large serving platter, alternating cheese and tomatoes.  Drizzle with the balsamic reduction.  Sprinkle the finely chopped basil over the salad and serve.

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