I’ve never been a fan of Caprese salads. While the idea is lovely – tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella and snips of basil – the resulting taste for me is bland. I have had it topped with olive oil. Still bland. I’ve had it drizzled with balsamic vinegar, which was a step in the right direction. As I perused America’s Test Kitchen 2010 cook book in search of recipes that would use loads and loads of tomatoes, I came upon this one and thought to myself, “Hmmm… a dressing! I may like this!” And sure enough, I love it! I halved the recipe for my husband and me to share as a light lunch. He wasn’t very hungry so I ate almost the entire bowl. That speaks volumes. This has all your classic Caprese elements, but the tomato juices and seeds are boiled down with balsamic vinegar and shallots to create a reduction that is lightly tossed with the salad. The end result? Caprese perfection.
from Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2010 Cookbook
Note: Because this does not keep well overnight, I halved the recipe to serve two or three people a fairly decent portion. If you’re serving more than that, double this recipe.
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese (packed in water), sliced into 1/2″ cubes
3/4 cup loosely packed basil, roughly torn into half-inch or one-inch pieces
1 1/2 tbsp minced shallot
1 tbsp high quality balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
additional sea salt and pepper to taste
Combine the cherry tomatoes, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. After thirty minutes, pour tomatoes into a salad spinner and spin for 30 seconds to one minute to release juices. Reserve at least 1/4 cup of tomato juices. Discard any additional juices.
Combine tomato juices with shallot and balsamic vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce until the mixture is approximately 1.5 tablespoons. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in olive oil. Cool for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cheese, basil, and sauce. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with crusty bread.