I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but there are two things in this world I lose all self-control over...cupcakes and buffalo mozzarella (not together in the same dish of course). Unfortunately, no cupcakes on the menu today, but I do have this salad and these perfect little bocconcini di bufala, that I'm currently drooling over.
The kids' school year is coming to a close but the chaos is in full gear with end of school activities, last minute tests, projects, dance shows, band and chorus concerts and all the end of the year celebrations. Having said that, meals need to be simple and easy to put together. No time to fuss right now.
I know the title of this post sounds a bit fancy, but in reality, this salad is the furthest thing from pretentious. One of my favorite things about summer is that it's so easy to make a meal out of vegetables. With gardens and markets overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, fresh herbs etc... you don't need a lot of skill to make this killer tasting dish.
A freshly grown summer tomato is like a little gift from the heavens. I find it's the only time of year when a tomato really tastes like a tomato should. I love to use different varieties and shapes (such as heirloom tomatoes) because they are so visually appealing. Don't forget...we eat with our eyes!
Ok, now about these bocconcini...
Bocconcini are basically tiny bite size "pillows" of mozzarella. But if you've never tried buffalo ('bufala' in Italian) milk mozzarella before, you've been seriously missing out on the meaning of life (sorry I get carried away). Imagine the softest, creamiest, most decadent mozzarella you've ever had in your life... quadruple that... and you'll understand what I mean.
I usually buy mine at Whole Foods (they carry Buf brand mozzarella which I think is excellent), but any good Italian market will sell this cheese. If you can't find bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella, then you can simply slice up a larger ball of good quality cow's milk mozzarella as well.
And, who doesn't love a cool, crisp, summer cucumber? Hello!
To tie it all together all you need is the most simple vinaigrette. Fragrant basil is marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then lightly drizzled over the salad. Serve with a side of crispy rustic bread. Delicious!
As I sit back and enjoy these first tastes of summer, I can't help but wonder...
how will I make it through another school year like that! How many more years 'till college?!
*This post is part of a collaboration between The Hanging Spoon and Jamie Oliver.com in conjuction with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (10 Meals That Could Save Your Life).
Tomato Cucumber Salad with Bocconcini di Bufala and Basil Vinaigrette
- about 6 tomatoes preferably heirloom tomatoes in various sizes and shapes quartered or halved into thick chunks
- 1 large cucumber peeled and sliced into half moon shape about an ½ inch thick
- 1 large handful basil chiffonade
- 7 oz. bocconcini di bufala bring cheese to room temperature which allows it to soften and intensifies the flavor
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- pinch of pepper
- To make the dressing place the vinegar, oil, basil, salt and pepper in a small glass bowl and whisk together then set aside for about an hour (you may not use all of it for this dish).
- Arrange tomatoes, cucumbers, and mozzarella on a medium sized platter.
- Drizzle desired amount of vinaigrette over top and serve.