Summer is all about enjoying the outdoors, relaxing with family, and taking in those extra rays of sunshine. Even if you love food like me, you don’t want to spend all of your time cooking. With everything suddenly in season, you can get away with minimal effort and still eat like a king. Enter: the summer caprese dinner salad.
I know there are some salad haters out there (and you folks are silly), but everything really tastes so much better fresh. This salad puts all of summer’s bounty to good use, tastes amazing, and takes about 10 minutes to make. What’s better than that?
There’s no formal recipe here. The most important thing is that you have fresh ingredients. I used local romaine, but you could really use any of your favorite salad greens. I like the crunch of the romaine in this one since the tomatoes are so slippery and the mozzarella is so soft. I also included mini bell peppers and cucumbers, but any other summer veggies here would be nice: radishes, shredded carrots, snap peas…
The shining stars of this salad are the early girl tomatoes, three kinds of fresh basil (one will do fine), and fresh mozzarella, which I got from a local Italian market that makes it fresh daily (and usually sells out if you don’t get there early enough!).
Add vinaigrette or other favorite dressing, and you’re done! My house dressing is a simple one: approximately one third balsamic vinegar to two thirds olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and a large pinch of herbs de provence.
Summer Caprese Dinner Salad
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce (or other salad greens)
1/2 cup diced bell peppers
1/3 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
2 large early girl tomatoes, sliced thickly
generous handful of basil (plain, purple, or thai), chopped into ribbons
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced thickly
1/4 cup house dressing
Arrange the salad with the lettuce first. Then, evenly distribute bell peppers and cucumbers or other veggies.
Layer the caprese by alternating slices of the tomatoes and mozzarella over the salad. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
Drizzle with your favorite dressing. Serve immediately.
*Swap out the veggies, greens, and herbs for whatever you have handy.
A and I made this salad to enjoy some of our fresh tomatoes and basil. We brought the ingredients to my parents’ house while visiting with my grandma. They were away and we thought to enjoy a nice meal with her on their gorgeous deck on a balmy evening. We whipped up dinner in about 10 minutes and enjoyed the rest of our visit chatting with her about our new dog, the weather, and our upcoming vacation. It was truly perfect!
This dinner salad is best enjoyed with crusty bread (for soaking up the dressing and mozzarella bits!), some white wine, and a lovely outdoor view.