Everyday clean eating is about simplicity. That’s hard to achieve. Many artists, chefs, and home cooks often try to add on to their masterpiece to make it better. But more often than not, less is more. In other words, we’re trying too hard.
In my native South of France, the summers are swelteringly hot and dry. Juicy tomatoes burst with freshness, taste, and a profusion of flavor, and summer meant it was time to use them or lose them. Back home we would make canned tomato sauce from scratch, and eat these fruits (yes, they are fruits!) for lunch and dinner.
Because in-season tomatoes are so perfectly tasty there is no need to do much. As long as you pair them with fresh, simple ingredients that enhance — not overpower — their subtle taste.
Think delicate extra-virgin olive oils, salt, pepper, and a bit of basil.
Of course, the tomato is native to America. But tomato dishes have been used and perfected all around the Mediterranean, especially in Italy. And when it comes to Italian perfection, nothing is as simple, gratifying and delicious as a Caprese salad.
Now, Caprese salad (named after the Italian island of Capri) is all about three ingredients: tomato, mozzarella cheese, and basil. Choose these three wisely. Fully ripe, dark red organic tomatoes. Choose heirloom if you can. Or beefsteak.Buffalo artisan mozzarella balls, which are usually kept in brine. Do not settle for cheap, rubbery, mass-produced “mozzarella.”
Sure, you can add salt (“Fleur de sel” if you’re fancy!), pepper, a drizzle of estate olive oil, or any of the spices I usually use (Click here to check out some of my favorites from Primal Palate).
My Caprese salad is on page 65 of Eat More, Burn More and I took some liberties with it. It has a twist, thanks to Mozzarella’s little cousin, Burrata. Burrata means “stuffed.” And indeed we’re talking about a kind of mozzarella ball that has been stuffed with a rich and tasty filling of mozzarella pieces and cream. We’re being bad, here. But it’s so good!
Bonus chef tips: Make sure you ripen the tomatoes out of the fridge. Maybe keep them in a brown paper bag, or just out on a plate that you place on the countertop. You’ll know when they are ready; they turn to a beautiful, dark red.
And talking about refrigerator and temperature, it’s important to serve a Caprese salad at room temperature. You don’t want mealy, fridge-cold tomatoes.
And here is a final chef tip. An experiment, rather. I want you to slice a tomato. Then taste it raw. Nothing on it. Then sprinkle the second slice with a bit of salt. In fact, if you have a great salt, like a smoked sea salt, or a fleur de sel, or Himalayan salt, go for it, season the tomato and taste it. What do you think? Yes, the salt adds texture, projects the flavor forward, and adds a completely different dimension to the taste of the tomato. That’s a great thing. Conclusion: don’t forget the salt.
You can usually find burrata in Italian food stores, and sometimes at your local supermarket. Don’t hesitate to replace it with regular mozzarella, or even smoked mozzarella for a different flavor.
This is summer. So I encourage you to find tomatoes at the peak of their freshness. I recommend colorful heirloom and beefsteak, but try them all and find the ones you prefer. Experiment with different dressings.
Rest assured that this is the kind of ultimate, healthy, fat-burning dish that is at the core of Eat More, Burn More. It’s delicious and something you can definitely indulge in without fear of weight gain or regretting it the next day.
Cook up a storm this summer. Empower your healthy. And let me know how you’re improving your life, and adding flavor to it, with these simple tips.
More awesome salads: