Another caprese

Every Summer that I have been involved with this, I’ve posted a caprese salad.  Mostly because I just love it.  It’s a perfect summer salad.

Cherokee purple tomato slices with mint/basil pesto and balsamic vinegar.

Clearly, produce quality is king.  If you don’t have good tomatoes, skip this one.  I also have some basil and mint growing in my garden that I love to throw into salads and vegetable sauté’s.

Basil/mint pesto
two big handfuls of fresh basil leaves
small handful of mint leaves
quarter cup of grated Parmesan
tablespoon of lemon juice
salt to taste
about a third of a cup of pine nuts/pecans or combination
two cloves of garlic
olive oil

Notes
Really, the hardest part of this recipe is the pesto.  And it’s really not all that hard.  After doing some experimentation, I think the ratio of basil leaves to Parmesan is about right, and if you go too heavy on the cheese it throws the whole thing out of balance.  I like the lemon juice to give it a little bit of bite, but you could exclude this.  The garlic is essential however.  As far as the nuts go, they’re just there for thickening, so you can only use pecans if you want to or pine nuts, depending on what flavor profile you’re going for.  I used both because I wanted to get rid of the pine nuts, but didn’t have enough to make the whole recipe I was going for.

This makes a little bit of mess, so make it in bulk and save it.  Add everything but the oil to the blender or food processor.  Pulse while adding the olive oil in a thin stream, you’re looking for a consistency of grits or a little thinner.  It’s not really an emulsion.  Experiment with the consistency and the ratios of the ingredients to get what you want.

Just use this as a generous dressing on your tomatoes, drizzle will load of nice balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with salt.

Where’s the cheese?
I didn’t have any.  Sorry.  Feel free to add mozzarella, preferably something soft and water-packed.

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