Nearly five years ago, my Finnish sister and I met in Zurich for several days. Friends/sisters since I lived with her family as an exchange student, it'd been many years since we'd met in person. Since we share an amazing familiarity, it seemed as if we'd last left off the week before.
Just as familiar, that week, became our daily and sometimes twice-daily order at cafes and restaurants: tomato with fresh mozzarella. It was the height of the season so the tomatoes were bright in color and pungent with flavor. Still we were surprised at how unlike the plates were presented, and tasted, although all were delicious.
Ever since, whenever I slice a fat tomato and top it with a creamy mozzarella, I think of Ritva and of one summer's idyllic days.
This is a dish that's all about perfection: perfectly ripe tomatoes, lusciously fresh mozzarella, the best salt, the best balsamic vinegar, bright strips of basil.
That said, good mozzarella, salt, vinegar and basil will be wasted on imperfect (woody, upripe or tasteless) tomatoes. If your tomatoes aren't perfect, save this recipe for another day.
UPDATES If you like, try the traditional dressing from Day 108 or any other good vinegar. In 2007, when the photo was taken, I used a gloriously colored zinfandel vinegar from O Olive Oil.
FROM THE ARCHIVES When the tomatoes are good, it's time to gorge! See the Recipe Box for great ways to enjoy perfect summer tomatoes.
FRESH TOMATO with FRESH MOZZARELLA
Time to table: 5 minutes
Serves 1 (easily multiplied)
2 - 3 thick slices of perfectly ripe tomato (for easy slicing, use a serrated knife)
per tomato slice, 1 thin slice fresh mozzarella
finishing salt such as fleur de sel
splash of good balsamic vinegar
few strips of fresh basil
Arrange the tomato slices on a small plate, top each one with mozzarella. Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt on the mozzarella, then splash on a bit of vinegar and the basil.
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