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Chef Andy: Easy, peasy Caprese Salad

By Andy Mueller
Correspondent


Nestled right between summer and fall, the fifth season has officially started – tomato season.

These plump, juicy and incredibly versatile crimson flavor bombs are everywhere, and there’s nothing quite like the experience of eating a fresh picked tomato right out of hand.

Comfortable in soups, stews, salads and sauces, the tomato can’t be beaten when it comes to potential applications in the culinary world.

Caprese
Local Chef Andy Mueller

I love all things tomato, especially on a homemade pizza, and in a zesty marinara sauce with pasta.

But the first time I picked a perfectly ripe tomato out of the garden, sprinkled it with salt and took a bite, it was as close to a culinary epiphany I can ever remember.

Right now is the best time to pick, purchase and play with garden-fresh beefsteaks, Roma, cherry or any other of the countless varieties that have become available over the years for our culinary enjoyment.

Along with potatoes (excluding sweet), eggplant, and all pepper varieties, tomatoes are a member of the nightshade family of plants and are a type of fruit, not vegetable.

Over time, botany took a backseat to culinary custom and many still believe tomatoes are a vegetable.
Either way, they’re delicious in almost any presentation.

I remember watching an old episode of “The French Chef” hosted by one of the greatest chefs of all time, Julia Child, talking about tomatoes.

With access and ability to create almost any dish in the world, Child said her favorite sandwich was sliced fresh tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper on white bread with mayonnaise.

I was shocked for a moment, then realized even the greatest chefs in the world can’t make anything taste better than Chef Mother Earth, and there’s no seasoning on the planet better than water and sunshine.

Try this recipe for Caprese Salad and enjoy the fruits of the earth as garden-fresh tomatoes are the star of the show.
One bite and you’ll be screaming encore.

Caprese Salad

In a mixing bowl add:

• 4-6 oz. mixed greens (I used arugula for this recipe).

Add just enough of the best extra virgin olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar to barely coat the greens.

Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh black pepper.

Arrange the greens on a platter.

On top of the greens add:

• Sliced fresh mozzarella.

• Fresh sliced tomatoes.

• Fresh basil leaves layered in rows to cover the greens leaving a 1/2 inch border of greens exposed.

Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic glaze (balsamic vinegar will work, but the glaze is thicker and adheres better).

Finish with sliced kalamata olives, a pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Enjoy.

Chef Andy Mueller is owner/chef of Galley 57 Supper Club in Bellevue – galley57.com.

Editor’s note: To read another recipe from Chef Andy, CLICK HERE.

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