Real talk: Caprese salad (insalata caprese if you’re on Capri) is a dish to make when fresh tomatoes are at their peak; you should be able to smell them before you round the corner at your local farmers market. The time comes but once a year, so make the most of it. (If you’re reading this in the dead of winter, try a riff with roasted tomatoes instead.)
Any combination of the summer beauties will work, but we like using a mix of heirloom tomatoes for this summer salad. Pick out a few larger ones like Brandywines, ideal for thick slices, and a pint of cherry tomatoes like wonderfully sweet Sun Golds. For the cheese, resist the temptation to buy burrata, which is too watery for this recipe. You want a simple ball of fresh mozzarella cheese (preferably made from buffalo’s milk) that you can tear into chunks.
Toss the halved cherry tomatoes with oil and salt, and don’t be stingy with the seasoning. That salt will pull the juices from the tomatoes, which will mix with the oil and become your dressing. Again, resist the urge to add balsamic vinegar to the equation, which would overpower the flavor of the ripe tomatoes. Tap into your inner artist and lay your slices of tomato on a big serving platter, scatter the torn mozzarella ball all around, and spoon the juicy little guys over the whole shebang. Let it sit so the flavors meld (use the time to toss some Italian-dressing-basted chicken skewers on the grill). Just before serving, finish with freshly cracked black pepper, a drizzle more of your best olive oil, and some fresh basil leaves.
This is part of BA’s Best, a collection of our essential recipes.