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In praise of Caprese – Tricks and Tips

From the Ground Up: In praise of Caprese

It doesn’t take much effort to make the most out of fresh-from-the-garden summertime tomatoes. In fact, one of the best reasons I know of to grow cherry or grape tomatoes is that they make such a refreshing little snack while you’re out watering, weeding, or picking.

If you’re willing to exert just a tiny bit more effort, here are three of my favorite, simple, satisfying, no-cook tomato recipes. If I can even call them that.

The first is for a tomato sandwich. You can vary the type of bread and mayo as you wish, but my favorite version calls for two slices of Rudi’s Honey Sweet Whole Wheat bread spread with a generous amount of Hellman’s mayonnaise on each slice, and several slabs of warm-from-the-sun tomatoes lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper. For me, it doesn’t get any better than this. In tomato season I can eat this sandwich every day and never get tired of it.

Next up is the Caprese salad. It wasn’t until 2017 that I had my first taste of this classic Italian combination, but it immediately became a favorite. It’s also the primary reason that I grow basil every year.

Caprese is so easy! And so refreshing. Slice some vine-ripened tomatoes, then cut up enough fresh, soft, mozzarella cheese so that there is one slice of cheese for each piece of tomato. (Even easier is to buy pre-sliced mozzarella.) Pick about the same number of basil leaves. Layer the three ingredients on top of each other. I start with a base of the cheese, drizzling a light touch of balsamic vinegar over it. Then a fresh basil leaf or two depending on their size. I place the tomatoes on top. Finally, finish with a sprinkle of salt and some freshly-ground black pepper. Traditionally, the recipe calls for a drizzle of olive oil, but I often leave it out.

Finally, here is a recipe that I discovered at a potluck dinner. Like the other two, there are few ingredients and few steps involved. You’ll need cherry or grape tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, your favorite hummus, and pita bread cut into wedges. Here’s all you do: Place one-third to one-half of a cup of hummus on a small plate. Top with tablespoon or two of the feta cheese. Add some fresh ground pepper if you wish. Drizzle with olive oil. Place enough of the little tomatoes on the plate to make you happy. Garnish with two or three slices of the pita bread. A fork makes it easier to eat the hummus/feta.

Of course, you can place the hummus and crumbled feta on top of the pita wedges or make an actual pita pocket sandwich. You’ll just need to dice the tomatoes to make them workable. You can also dice up some cucumber to add a bit of crunch.

Do you have a favorite simple tomato recipe you’d like to share? Send me an email or letter and let me know. (Contact information below.)

Pam Baxter is an avid organic vegetable gardener who lives in Kimberton. Direct e-mail to [email protected], or send mail to P.O. Box 80, Kimberton, PA 19442. Share your gardening stories on Facebook at “Chester County Roots.” Pam’s nature-related books for children and families are available on Amazon, at Amazon.com/author/pamelabaxter.