If you spend enough time on Instagram, you know that summer is "tomato season." But when you have access to pretty much every vegetable 365 days a year, what does tomato season even mean? I use tomatoes almost every day when I make my favorite chopped salad. But moving into summer means moving tomatoes from a supporting one to a lead one and that's where this salad comes in.
Tomatoes are the star here. We've got two varieties - heirloom and cherry - and we're pairing them with some of their best supporting actors - namely, basil and mozzarella. This salad is light, colorful, flavorful and extremely easy to make. Want to keep it dairy-free? It's truly just as good without the cheese.
NOTE: You'll see down below that I blanched the tomatoes and removed their skin. This step is optional though recommended. In the photo above I have not removed the skin. The process of blanching and peeling softens the tomatoes a bit and also warms them just slightly. If you've got the time and patience, go for it. If not, it will still be delicious.
2 cup cherry tomatoes
3-4 heirloom tomatoes
2 cups basil leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoon pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup olive oil + more for finishing
7 ounces buffalo mozzarella balls
a handful of microgreens or greens of your choice
flaky finishing salt, like Maldon salt
1. Optional: blanche the tomatoes and remove their skin. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice water.
2. Prep the tomatoes: use a paring knife to remove the core from the heirloom tomatoes. Score the bottom of all of the tomatoes, using your knife to cut an x shape on the bottom of the tomato. Don't cut too deep, you just need to penetrate the skin, no deeper.
3. When the water comes to a boil, drop in the tomatoes one by one. (Don't add all the tomatoes at once, as it will bring down the temperature of the water.) After about 30 seconds use a slotted spoon to remove the cherry tomatoes and transfer them to the ice bath. Leave the heirloom tomatoes for another 30 seconds to a minute, or until you can see the skin on the underside of the tomato beginning to peel. (The spot where you made the x mark.)
4. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin; it should remove easily. If it does not place it back in the boiling water for another 30 seconds. Discard the skin.
5. Prepare the pesto by adding the basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and garlic into a blender or food processor. Blend together and with the blender running slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue to blend until fully combined. Salt to taste.
6. Spoon half of the pesto onto a plate or serving platter. Use your spoon to spread it out over the plate.
7. Slice the heirloom tomatoes and plate them around the edge of the plate. Add the cherry tomatoes to the center. (If you didn't blanche the tomatoes you may want to cut the cherry tomatoes in half.) Add the mozzarella balls around and spoon some more of the pesto over the top of the salad.
8. Add some microgreens, or greens of your choice. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil and finish with flaky salt.