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Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Ricotta, & Basil Oil

A different and much more fun take on a caprese salad. Perfect for when heirloom tomatoes come into season.

I’m not sure when I discovered Lauren’s obsession with Caprese salad. I think it had to have been in one of the early times that I cooked for her on a date night. She loved it, and ever since it’s been a staple of our kitchen when heirloom tomatoes are in season. The NC State Farmers Market has some truly amazing tomatoes, I’d put them up against any others in the world. Regardless of where you stand in your state pride, this is worth doing when tomatoes take over the tables at your farmers market.


The basic Caprese Salad is simple, large pieces of fresh tomatoes and layered with fresh mozzarella are drizzled with an exquisite Extra Virgin Olive Oil, seasoned with the flakiest sea salt and brightest fresh cracked pepper possible, then dressed with some fresh basil. With good ingredients, isn’t impossible to mess up.


That recipe works amazingly well. There are not a whole lot of reasons to fuck with it. But… it’s not much of a recipe to put onto a website, so why not do something a little different?


I made this for an anniversary dinner and it made its way into our rotation. I keep many of the same ingredients, but just utilize them in different ways. In this case, I reach for the heirloom cherry tomatoes when they are in season, but you can do the same with full-size heirlooms if they are easier to find, just cut them into bite-sized pieces after peeling.




Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Whipped Ricotta, & Basil Oil


Ingredients

  • Basil Oil (See below)

  • Burrata Cheese

  • Whole Milk, Organic Ricotta Cheese

  • Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes (Beefeater, Golden, Red, and Green Tomatoes, or whatever is in season)

  • Fresh basil leaves

  • Salt

  • White Pepper


Notes:

Please make sure to buy organic whole-milk ricotta. Non-organic ricotta tends to have preservatives in it that prevent the burrata and ricotta whip to be lusciously smooth. You can do it without the organic one, but you'll get results that might be a touch grainy.


Technique


For the Basil Oil:
  1. Quickly blanch basil in simmering water, 10 seconds, and immediately shock in ice.

  2. Once chilled, pat basil with paper towels until dry.

  3. Puree basil, a pinch of salt, and olive oil with an immersion blender until completely smooth.

  4. Set aside at room temperature until oil and basil separate.


For the Tomatoes:
  1. Score tomatoes, drop into boiling water for 10 seconds, then remove and immediately place into an ice water bath. We don’t want to cook the tomatoes, just release its skin.

  2. Remove skin from tomato, place into a plastic container, and reserve in the refrigerator.

For the Ricotta
  1. Whip ricotta, burrata, a pinch of kosher salt and white pepper in a food processor until completely smooth and fluffy. About 60-75 seconds on high.

  2. Place in a squeeze bottle or piping bag and reserve in the refrigerator.

To Assemble:
  1. In a shallow bowl, spoon 2 Tbs of the separated basil oil directly onto the center of the dish.

  2. Place the tomatoes in a single layer starting in the center of the oil, this will cause the oil to start to spread out.

  3. Using the squeeze bottle or a piping bag with a small tip, squeeze small pearls in between the tomatoes.

  4. Sprinkle with flakey sea salt and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

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