Coast Cooking

A Caprese salad is about as simple a delicious a summer meal as you can make

A Caprese salad is easy and attractive for the summer time.
A Caprese salad is easy and attractive for the summer time. Special to the Sun Herald

It’s hard to think of good summertime foods without thinking of a Caprese salad, which is about as simple as it gets, but success is dependent on the quality of the ingredients you use.

This Italian salad is made with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and the best-quality olive oil you can find on top of the salad.

If you don’t use tomatoes that are fragrant and bursting with flavor, you are going to be disappointed.

I have never had a fresh basil leaf that disappointed me, so that ingredient is almost foolproof, but the mozzarella, oh, the mozzarella, that is a difficult one.

The best is imported Italian buffalo mozzarella, but it can be pricy and hard to find. Your best bet is to try several brands until you find one you like.

One last note. I am beginning to see some better-quality olive oils show up in the grocery stores.

I found a great, unfiltered Italian oil at Wal-Mart, and also some good oil from Greece, Chile and Sicilia. Remember, olive oil is not just a lubricant, it is an ingredient and should have assertive flavor and not be mild and bland.