Okay, there's no way of avoiding this - I realise this blog has been all but dead for the last three months. There really isn't much of an excuse. I guess the best I can do is say that I've been busy finishing up university.. and, well, not much else. And now? I suppose I'm in life-limbo. I don't know what it is, but maybe upheaval and cooking don't really go well together.
I read recently that strawberries and tomatoes have the same flavour profile, chemically. I don't know how true that is. I certainly wouldn't say they taste the same, but both fruits are a delicious, red sweet with a tang. A Caprese salad is probably my boring old favourite, but only when it's done right. Unfortunately, most tomatoes you get in the UK aren't particularly appetising, tasting and feeling more like styrofoam than the plump, juicy fruit one always hopes for.
I had a surplus of strawberries and a few of the aforementioned sub-standard tomatoes, so I set about making a revised Caprese salad with strawberries and mint. It would probably have been ah-mazing with some balsamic vinegar, but I had run out, so made do with red wine vinegar. At least the colour stayed pretty! I have to admit that I amped up the natural sweetness of the fruits with some sugar, but this is completely dependent on the taste of the produce you're working with.
In fact, with perfect tomatoes and strawberries, I'd probably leave both vinegar and sugar out. But the salt, that little sprinkle of salt, is necessary. It takes what might have been a wimpy fruit salad into the realm of punchy, savoury food.
I'm being really loose with the recipe here, because I have to admit I find strict salad recipes really strange. Salads are the most flexible kind of food, and should be adjusted according to personal taste. I mean, I used cherry tomatoes and bocconcini - small balls of Mozzarella - here, because I like them, and because of some desire for size-symmetry, but feel free to use whatever great (or not-so-great) tomatoes you can find.
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Strawberries and Mint
One punnet strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
One punnet cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Small bunch of mint, thinly shredded
Pinch of salt
Around one tablespoon of red wine vinegar
Around one teaspoon of caster sugar
One bag of Bocconcini or one ball Mozzarella cheese
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of ground black pepper
Toss the cut strawberries and tomatoes with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Let it sit for ten minutes, allowing the juices to come out from the fruits. Add the mint, vinegar and sugar and let sit for another ten minutes, allowing all the flavours to marry.
Tear, slice or cut the Mozzarella however you prefer, if using. Toss the Mozzarella cubes or Bocconcini with the marinated strawberries and tomatoes. Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and top with a grind of black pepper. Serve!