Herbs are Nature’s flavoring agents. Bet you know the unique and captivating fragrances of sage, basil, thyme, dill, or mint as you brush past the herb plants in your garden. Kitchen herb gardens are such a necessity for the home cook! Just a few pots of herbs, or even maybe a few acres if you have the land, will add delight to your recipes such as my favorite Insalata Caprese — Tomato and Mozzarella Salad.
Last summer, I wrote a posting about kitchen gardens on my gardening blog “A Gardener’s Delight“. Be sure to check it out here!
The herb garden for the Palladio restaurant at the Barboursville Winery, in Barboursville, Virginia is one of my favorite herb gardens.
You can have your own herb garden at home. I grow my herbs in pots so I can bring some inside for the winter.
What’s better than a red ripe tomato and the fresh spicy taste of basil, both warm from the garden on a nice summer day? One of my absolute favorite recipes is so simple: Insalata Caprese. Try it with mini mozzarella balls, regular mozzarella balls or the decadent creamy whole burrata.
From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….
Insalata Caprese – Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad
For each serving:
One ripe tomato, sliced, or cut into wedges
Five small fresh mozzarella balls
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar (optional)
Sprinkled with finely chopped fresh basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Assemble tomato and mozzarella balls on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic reduction. Sprinkle with fresh basil, salt, and pepper, and enjoy!
You can make your own balsamic vinegar reduction. Pour a bottle of balsamic vinegar into a saucepan over low heat and simmer, stirring often. Let vinegar reduce by about half and thicken slightly. Vinegar reduction is “done” when it coats the back of a metal spoon. Be careful not to overcook or boil the vinegar reduction or it will caramelize and taste burned. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month in a sealed squeeze bottle or other container.
Or you can purchase balsamic reduction online or at your local grocery store.
I like to use the mini mozzarella balls, cut in half, along with halved orange-colored cherry tomatoes. Super sweet and wonderful!
For a different presentation, you can use the larger mozzarella balls, cut into portions, and a mixture of smaller cherry and grape tomatoes (see below):
My favorite sage plant comes back year after year.
So tell me…what’s YOUR favorite herb?
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