This is one of our favorite summer salads - perfect when fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes are available!
1 large ripe tomato, cut crosswise into slices (vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes are perfect if you can get them)
4 slices (about 1/8" or so thick) part-skim mozzarella cheese
6 or more fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (see below), plus a few leaves for garnish
1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (the best you can afford)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (ditto)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place 1 slice of tomato on each of 2 salad plates. Top with a slice of mozzarella, fanned so as to show the tomato below. Repeat. You should have on each plate a fan consisting of tomato, mozzarella, tomato, mozzarella. Sprinkle some basil over the top of the fan. Combine oil and vinegar and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.
To make chiffonade: Roll up all the leaves (except garnish) lengthwise into a cigar-shape. Using a small, sharp knife, slice across into very thin slices. This is far and away the easiest method of finely shredding something leafy such as basil!
When we can get heirloom tomatoes at the store or local co-op, we like to experiment with different varieties in this salad. If we use a smaller tomato, we also use smaller slices of mozzarella and just do more layers. This salad really highlights the simple flavors of the ingredients, so it is really important to use high quality ingredients in it. You can adjust the amounts of everything to suit your taste.
Delicious with grilled meat/poultry!