Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Black Olive Tapenade

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Black Olive Tapenade
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 large beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, sliced into eight (8) 1/2-inch thick center rounds
½ pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into four thick slices
1 or 2 bunches of fresh basil leaves (about 40 leaves)
Kalamata Olive Tapenade (recipe below)
Sweet basil vinaigrette (recipe below)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sweet Basil Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
12 basil leaves, stems removed
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
½ tsp Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Directions:
1. Chiffonade enough basil leaves to result in 1 cup (about 20 leaves).
2. Blend together 1/2 cup of the chopped basil with vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper until the basil is well broken down.
3. Refrigerate while preparing the dish.

Kalamata Olive Tapenade

Ingredients:
2 cups Kalamata olives, pitted
3 cloves garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
3 fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Combine olives, garlic, capers, basil and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. With the motor running, slowly add the oil until the dressing is emulsified.
3. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Assembly:
1. Fan out 4 or 5 basil leaves with stem ends centered on a salad plate
2. Place a tomato slice in the center of the leaves and spread 1/2 teaspoon of the tapenade on top
3. Stack on a slice of the mozzarella and spread with another 1/2 teaspoon of the tapenade
4. Top with another tomato slice and a generous tablespoon of the remaining chiffonade of basil
5. Finish with a mounded tablespoonful of the tapenade
6. Drizzle dressing over the stack and around the plate

Larry puts out pear salads_smlSalads can establish a theme and set the expectations for the entire dining experience. Another good example is the bright and appealing summertime favorite Mozzarella and Tomato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette. In the photo at left, I was setting out one of our Pear Salads for a large group dinner: Cheesy Pear Salad, Gene’s Pear Salad, French Pear Salad, Curried Carrot and Pear Salad

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