Balsamic Tomato Basil Salad
 


Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, tomatoes and basil sounds so simple, but getting the proportions and quality right turns a good salad into a great one!
I toss the tomatoes with garlic, salt, olive oil and the basil before adding to the salad.  It really brings out their flavor.


 

 In a food processor or jar of an immersion blender add vinegar, salt, and sugar.  With the mixer running, add the oil in a slow steady stream.  Process until slightly emulisified.  Stir in black pepper.  Set aside until ready to use.  This can be refrigerated and brought to room temperature for future use.

Dressing 
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/8 t kosher salt
1/8 t sugar
1/4 c olive oil
1/8 t freshly cracked black pepper

 Slice or chop tomatoes and set in a small mixing bowl. 
Crush garlic and add to the tomatoes.  Chiffonade basil and add. Toss with the olive oil and salt. Cube or slice mozerella and set aside.

2 roma tomatoes
1 medium clove garlic
1/8 t salt
1 t olive oil
1 small bunch fresh basil

1/2 c fresh mozerella cubed or sliced
Tossing the tomatoes with garlic, salt, basil and olive oil adds a lot of flavor to them.  It's worth the extra step.
 
Chop and rinse lettuce.  Dry well and place in a salad bowl.   Pour dressing onto the lettuce.  Toss well.  Top with the tomatoes, basil and mozerella.  Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

1 head romaine lettuce
sea salt and black pepper (to top salad)

To prevent lettuce from browning on the edges use a lettuce knife.  It is a plastic knife costing $3-5.  It can be found online or in many kitchen stores.

 For crisp leaves, immerse lettuce into a bowl of cold water and swish gently to rinse.  A direct stream of water on the leaves can bruise them.   

Lettuce should be gently patted or spun dry.  If the lettuce is dried, the dressing will adhere better.  Salad spinners work really well for this task.  I chop, wash, spin-dry and store my lettuce in the refrigerator in the spinner.  It stays crisp and fresh for about a week.

I like to dress just the lettuce so it is evenly coated, then add the toppings.  The toppings don't need the dressing and if they are tossed with the salad they often fall to the bottom.
 
Problems

Quality
Produce- Always use high quality produce.  Don't rely on a great dressing to make up for tomatoes that aren't very good.  Each component should add something great.

Olive oil
- Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.  Extra virgin is the purest olive oil and best tasting in salads.

Balsamic vinegar-  Find one you like and stick with it.  There are many varieties of balsamic vinegars ranging in price from $3 a bottle to $250 a bottle.  Go to an Italian market and sample a few before deciding.  More expensive doesn't necessarily mean better taste, sometimes just different.  My favorite is the balsamic Costco carries.  It's a great price and tastes just the way I want a balsamic vinegar to.  Most brands Walmart or other chain grocery stores carry are very poor quality.  Anytime I've bought a bottle in a pinch, I've ended up regretting it then throwing it out.  


Balsamic Tomato Basil Salad
serves 6-8


Dressing
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/8 t kosher salt
1/8 t sugar
1/4 c olive oil
1/8 t freshly cracked black pepper

Salad
2 roma tomatoes
1 medium clove garlic
1/8 t kosher salt

1 small bunch fresh basil
1/2 c fresh mozerella cubed or sliced
1 head romaine lettuce
sea salt and black pepper (to top the salad)


1.  In a food processor or jar of an immersion blender add vinegar, salt, and sugar.  With the mixer running, add the oil in a slow steady stream.  Process until slightly emulisified.  Stir in black pepper.  Set aside until ready to use.  This can be refrigerated and brought to room temperature for future use.

2.  Slice or chop tomatoes and set in a small mixing bowl.  Crush garlic and add to the tomatoes.  Chiffonade basil and add.  (1)Toss with the olive oil and salt. Cube or slice mozerella and set aside.

3.  (2)Chop and (3)rinse lettuce.  (4)Dry well and place in a salad bowl.   Pour dressing onto the lettuce.  Toss well.  (5)Top with the tomatoes, basil and mozerella.  Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. 


Notes

1.  Tossing the tomatoes with garlic, salt, basil and olive oil adds a lot of flavor to them.  It's worth the extra step.

2
.  To prevent lettuce from browning on the edges use a lettuce knife.  It is a plastic knife costing $3-5.  It can be found online or in many kitchen stores.


3.  For crisp leaves, immerse lettuce into a bowl of cold water and swish gently to rinse.  A direct stream of water on the leaves can bruise them.   

4.  Lettuce should be gently patted or spun dry.  If the lettuce is dried, the dressing will adhere better.  Salad spinners work really well for this task.  I chop, wash, spin-dry and store my lettuce in the refrigerator in the spinner.  It stays crisp and fresh for about a week.

5.  I like to dress just the lettuce so it is evenly coated, then add the toppings.  The toppings don't need the dressing and if they are tossed with the salad they often fall to the bottom. 


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