Creamy tomato and mozzarella salad is a nice alternative to the more traditional Caprese Salad. Both have their place as an exceptional first course or appetizer and both feature ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella nicely as the star ingredients. Yet creamy tomato and mozzarella salad have an element of surprise with heat from the jalapeño chilies, a slight brininess from the capers, and a bright lemony creaminess from the dressing.
To make this mozzarella salad sing like the opening act of an all-star concert, be very particular about the ingredients you use.
First and foremost, only use perfectly ripe tomatoes and locally grown tomatoes if you can get them. This mozzarella salad is at its best when the tomatoes are in season and bursting with sweet sun-ripened flavor. Out of season tomatoes just won’t do the salad justice. The juices from ripe tomatoes will blend into the dressing creating a sauce perfect for soaking up with good crusty bread. If you must make this salad before or after tomato season, use cherry or grape tomatoes as you can get a good tasting and ripe, hydroponically grown grape tomatoes during the year.
Also, use any variety of tomato, as long as the tomatoes are ripe. If you like to mix things up, use a variety of tomatoes with different shapes, sizes, and color. Yellow tomatoes are especially nice in this mozzarella salad as they have less acid than the red variety.
Second, use only fresh mozzarella. The vacuum sealed mozzarella you find in the dairy section of the store is no substitute. Even the brand that looks like it is fresh mozzarella. If it is vacuumed sealed it is not fresh. Don’t even think about it. That cheese works nicely on a pizza but not in a salad. Fortunately, several markets make their own mozzarella, so it is not hard to come by. Often the mozzarella is kept in water, or just freshly wrapped in plastic wrap and sold the day it is made. Buffalo mozzarella is another alternative if you can find it.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Third, use the best tasting extra virgin olive oil you can afford. Don’t use the generic extra virgin olive oil that is really a blend of oils, but real extra virgin olive oil with a fruity and peppery note and body. You do not need to buy the most expensive one, just a good one that you like.
More tomato recipes
By using the best quality ingredients, this mozzarella salad is hard to resist. It is immensely satisfying as only food made with fresh quality ingredients is. Both tomatoes and fresh mozzarella taste best when they are at room temperature, so serve the mozzarella salad at room temperature. Though, it is easier to slice mozzarella when it is cold and right out of the refrigerator. I recommend making the salad no more than an hour before you want to serve it. Unfortunately, mozzarella salad is not a make-ahead meal.
Additionally, I recommend slicing the mozzarella and tomatoes into reasonable size slices. My yellow tomato was very large, so I cut each slice into quarters. It was a lot more manageable that way. Also, I cut each mozzarella slice in half, especially the middle slices.
If you wish, you can rip large bite-size pieces of the mozzarella and scatter the pieces over the tomatoes instead of layering each slice. This looks especially nice when you have different varieties of tomatoes in your salad and you arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella in a random pattern.
Mozzarella Salad makes a delicious first course or an appetizer with slices of grilled crusty bread like a baguette. You are going to want something to soak up the delicious juices from the tomatoes and dressing. Either way, this tomato and mozzarella salad is a fine addition to your salad repertoire.
August and September are the best months to enjoy ripe tomatoes so go get some before they are gone.
This recipe is adapted from Marinated Mozzarella with Crème Fraîche and Lemon and Marjoram by Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, Happy Days with the Naked Chef, and Lemon Cream from Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden.
My Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad recipe is part of a social media collaborative project featuring tomatoes. Below the recipe is a list of all the talented Instagramers and food bloggers who are participating in the #wesaytomatoes collaboration. Please check out their tomato recipes for more tomato inspiration
Creamy Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Creamy tomato and mozzarella salad is a wonderful change from the traditional Caprese Salad. Like a Caprese salad, creamy tomato and mozzarella salad showcase both the tomatoes and mozzarella as the stars of the meal. Yet in this salad, the fresh mozzarella and sun-ripened tomatoes get a subtle yet complimentary embellishment from the lemon cream, minced jalapeño chilis, and fresh herbs. The layer of heat from the chili pairs nicely with the fresh cheese and creamy dressing and adds a crisp bite within this yielding salad. I like adding a subtle but briny tang to the salad, so I added capers for some extra lift.
This is one of those salads that you don't really need to follow the recipe ingredients amounts exactly. Use this recipe as a guideline and adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. The food pairings are lovely, but how much jalapeño, fresh herbs, capers, and dressing is best determined by your taste. If you use the best quality ingredients, this mozzarella salad is a winner no matter how much jalapeño you add. When adjusting the ingredients to your taste, remember to start with less as you can always add more. It is much harder to take away.
If you can find fresh marjoram substitute it for the oregano. This dish benefits from the flavor of fresh herbs, so do not use dried herbs. If you are not a fan of oregano, substitute it with fresh thyme, lemon thyme or rosemary.
This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Marinated Mozzarella in Crème Fraiche with Lemon and Marjoram from his book, Happy Days. The Creamy dressing is adapted from Joshua McFadden’s Lemon Cream, in his book, Six Seasons
Best eaten at room temperature and the day it is made.
- 2 lbs (1 kg) ripe tomatoes any variety or color
- 1 lb (500 g) fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella
- Kosher Salt and Fresh Black pepper to taste
- Lemon Dressing
- 1 lemon
- ½ - 1 jalapeño chili
- 1 TB capers
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh oregano or marjoram to taste about 2 teaspoons or more
- ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed remove green germ
- Pinch Kosher Salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- ½ tsp of lemon zest
- 1 TB (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 TB (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil
Make the lemon dressing
In a small bowl add the garlic and heavy cream and allow to infuse for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. This gives you a nice garlic flavor without the bracing bite from garlic.
After 2 hours, fish out the garlic cloves from the heavy cream and add the Kosher salt and several rounds of freshly ground black pepper, and lemon zest.
Using a wire whisk, whisk the cream by hand until the cream just starts to thicken. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and whisk until airy but pourable. This won’t get thick like fully whipped cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Cover the bowl and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Best if used the same day it is made.
Assemble the Salad
Slice the tomatoes a shy 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick and spread out in a single layer on a tray or cutting board. Lightly sprinkle the slices with flaky sea salt and fresh black pepper. Slice the mozzarella in ¼ inch (.5cm) slices.
Arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella slices around a platter by alternating slices of tomatoes with slices of mozzarella.
Slice the jalapeño pepper in half and remove the stem, white pith and seeds. The white pith and seeds carry most of the heat in the chili so if you want it a little spicier, leave some of the white pith intact. However, make sure you remove all of the seeds as they would look unappealing in this dish. Mince the jalapeño chili and sprinkle it over the tomatoes and mozzarella. You may only need about half of the jalapeño chili, but use as much as you want.
Sprinkle some of the fresh oregano, and capers over the salad. Pretend like you are Jackson Pollock and paint the tomatoes and mozzarella arrangement with the lemon cream. Depending on how thick the lemon cream is, I find it works best if you wave a spoon back and forth, filled with the dressing above the salad. You will get a random pattern of the creamy dressing but not a heavy and gloppy looking one. You will not use all the dressing. Serve extra dressing on the side for those who want more.
Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the salad and extra herbs, capers and minced jalapeño, flaky sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Serve room temperature as a salad or first course. Or serve as an appetizer with crusty bread or grilled bread.
This is best eaten the day it is made. If you have some leftovers, store in the refrigerator and eat up the next day.
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© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Summer is in full swing and every week more vegetables are available at the markets. There is no better time than now to eat your fill of summer vegetables. One of my favorite vegetables are green beans. I can eat them plain, or all dressed up with butter and fresh herbs. I love the clean and slightly sweet taste with its snappy crispness. If prepared properly, green beans maintain their spring green color, hold their shape, and still have a fresh picked flavor.
Because they are so well-loved and easy to prepare, we often use green beans in a salad. Hot or cold, green bean salad is a perfect side dish for any type of meal on any given day. There are countless varieties of green bean salads to make as well. Fresh beans pair well with all sorts of vegetables like tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, peas, and other beans just to name a few options. They are also good with endless seasonings and add-ins like walnuts, almonds, basil, tarragon, garlic, sesame seeds, or fresh ginger.
For this recipe, I decided to make a green bean salad with yellow wax beans and red kidney beans as the main ingredients. It is a lemony 3-bean salad with fresh basil and parsley, with a subtle spicy kick of fresh ginger and lemon vinaigrette. I wanted a salad dressing that is a little different from my typical vinaigrette of vinegar, mustard, garlic and olive oil. Because ginger and green beans taste so great together I decided to add it in. The ginger does not come off too strong, just enough for the beans to shine with a subtle spicy glow.
Fresh yellow wax beans are tender, sweet and delicious. I love the contrast of colors between pale yellow wax beans with the bright green beans and dark red from the kidney beans. Wax beans are hard to come by, as I have only seen them at local farm stands. Last summer I could not get enough of the yellow wax beans from Rochambeau Farm Stand and I can’t wait until they are available this summer. For this recipe, I bought this round of fresh beans from another local farm stand, Meadows Farm. Lucky for me, I live in a metropolitan area with 4 local farms only a couple of miles away from my house. I get to participate in the best parts of both worlds.
Look for green beans and yellow wax beans that are firm, bright in color, and not too big. At times, fresh beans can get fibrous and unpleasant to eat. Fortunately, it is easy to tell if the beans are fibrous by their look and touch. Older and more fibrous beans are less dense, limp, duller and paler in color. Haricot Verts are French green beans. These beans are smaller and often more tender than regular green beans. They also tend to be pricier.
For more summer vegetables recipes
Like most vegetable salads, if you prepare the green beans too far in advance, they will lose their crispness. Fortunately, because they take about a minute to cook, putting this green bean salad together is not a hassle or stressful to do before serving. There is a minor amount of chopping, and the only thing you must cook are the beans for one minute. The most difficult thing to make is the salad dressing, and that is fairly easy.
Serve this salad hot or cold as a side dish paired with fish, meats or chicken. Or, serve as a vegan entrée paired with brown rice or other grain. Enjoy!
Green Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette
Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 TB fresh lemon juice
- Zest from half a lemon optional
- 1 tsp honey or agave, or liquid sugar in the raw*
- 4 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/8 tsp Kosher Salt
- A couple of grinds on the pepper mill of black pepper
Green Bean Salad
- 8 oz 225 g fresh green beans or French green beans, cleaned and stems trimmed
- 8 oz 223 g fresh yellow wax beans, cleaned and stems trimmed
- 1-15 oz 425 g can Red Kidney Beans, or Black-eyed peas, or chick peas - drained, rinsed and dried
- 1 TB minced fresh basil
- 2 TB minced fresh parsley
- 3 scallions minced white and light green parts only
- Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed
Make the vinaigrette
Add the grated fresh ginger, lemon zest (if using), lemon juice, and honey to a small bowl. Whisk until the honey is completely dissolved. Add the olive oil, a little at a time and whisk thoroughly between additions until emulsified. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Also, adjust flavor with additional ingredients if needed. Set aside.
Make the Green Bean Salad
Fill a large sauce pan or stock pot with water, and turn the stove to high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Meanwhile prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and fill part way with ice cubes and cold water. Set aside.
When the water comes to a brisk boil, add a pinch of Kosher salt, then add the prepared green and wax beans. Quickly blanch the beans, about one minute or when the water returns to an early boil. Drain the water and immediately add the beans to the ice bath. Swirl the beans once around in the ice water with your hands. Allow the beans to stay in the ice bath until they are just cool. Drain the beans from the ice bath and spread them out on a clean kitchen towel to dry.
Add the beans to a medium mixing bowl, then add the red kidney beans, minced scallions, and fresh herbs. Gently toss with your hands to mix. Give the reserved lemon ginger vinaigrette a good whisk to emulsify it again, and add about half of the dressing to the vegetables. Toss to mix, then taste to see if you want more dressing. Taste for seasoning and add a small amount of salt and pepper if needed.
This is delicious served either cold or warm, but like most salads it is best eaten very soon after it is made. Make ahead note: you can make the salad dressing ahead and store on the counter for a couple of hours. Prepare the beans no more than an hour ahead of time. Add rinsed and dried kidney beans and green beans to a bowl and cover. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to mix them all together. It is best not to add the fresh herbs and scallions until you are ready to serve the salad. Assemble the dressing, herbs and vegetables, and mix together when you are ready to serve.
For a vegan meal, use your favorite liquid sweetener like agave. I am not as familiar with the level of sweetness agave or liquid cane sugar in the raw, so start with less, then taste and add more if needed. You can easily use a pinch or granulated sugar as well. Just make sure it is well mixed.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Potatoes in all their varieties and preparations make great comfort food. Unfortunately, they also have a bad rap. This is because potatoes taste sublime with anything buttery, creamy and with lots of cheese. I find it hard to resist creamy potato salad with lots of hard-boiled eggs, so I created a recipe for lemon potato salad with little added fat, but still has a creamy texture.
Anything Goes Lemon Potato Salad is just what the name says. Potato salad with lots of vegetables and lightly coated with a lemon-mustard vinaigrette. To replace the hard-boiled eggs of traditional potato salad, I added tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and fresh corn. I believe this salad will work with any variety of vegetables, such as scallions, green beans, sugar snap peas, or traditional celery and carrots.
For the dressing, I wanted it to be lemony and bright without it being too sour. So, I tamed the lemon with mustard, olive oil and my secret ingredient, pickle juice. Just a touch of pickle juice from a jar of bread and butter pickles adds the final touch needed for a delicate balance of sweet and sour flavors. If you do not like pickles then omit their juice, but you may need to add a pinch of sugar to the dressing. As I always recommend, taste and season as you like.
Besides my secret ingredient, one other trick I use for potato salad is to add vinegar or lemon juice to the potatoes while they are still hot after cooking. The potatoes absorb the lemon juice and this added squirt of acid brightens them with flavor.
My inspiration for this recipe came from a delicious tomato salad. It is filled with grape tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh uncooked corn, avocado and basil. A perfect end of the summer salad to enjoy when corn and tomatoes are at their peak. Because potatoes and corn make the perfect pair, I decided to make a lemon potato salad version like this sunny tomato salad.
Eating fresh corn just scraped off the cob is a treat. The kernels are nicely sweet and crisp. It is raw, but it does not taste raw. If you want to add some extra corn flavor, run the back of a knife down the naked cob. This pressure pushes out some corn milk to mix with the fresh kernels. This technique is also great to use when making corn chowder or creamed corn.
Summer is a great time to highlight the fresh flavors of the garden. This is a simple salad to make and is very refreshing. A meal filled with the summer bounty and enhanced with a lemon vinaigrette. Pair Anything Goes Lemon Potato Salad with any grilled meat, chicken or fish. It is perfect to bring or make for a party, or make for a weeknight family dinner.
More potato recipes: Potato Salad with Sorrel
Anything Goes Lemon Potato Salad
- 1.5 lbs 691 g medley of baby potatoes
- Zest from 1 lemon
- Juice from half a lemon
- 1 ear corn on the cob
- Half a cucumber about 6 oz 160 g Quartered, seeds removed, and chopped
- 2 fire and ice radishes sliced thinly
- One handful of grape tomatoes about 4 oz (120 g), sliced in half
- 3 scallions white and light green parts only sliced thin
- 4 sprigs flat leaf parsley
- 2-3 sprigs Lemon Thyme
- 1 TB minced fresh chives optional
- 4-6 leaves fresh basil chiffonade sliced (optional)
- 3-4 leaves fresh mint chiffonade sliced(optional)
- Juice from half a lemon about 2 TBS
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 TB Bread and Butter pickle juice
- 3 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Scrub the potatoes under cold running water. Fill a large sauce pan part way with water, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add a large pinch of Kosher salt to the water, then add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are just done. A knife or fork will easily slice all the way through the middle without resistance. This could take anywhere between 10 to 25 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. I start checking my potatoes after 10 minutes, then check them every 5 minutes thereafter. You do not want to overcook the potatoes or they get mushy.
Once done, remove the potatoes from the boiling water and place on a cutting board. Let cool slightly or use tongs to hold each potato in place while you slice each potato in half. This needs to be done before the potatoes cool, because you squeeze lemon juice over them while they are still warm. It does not matter which way you cut the potatoes in half. I mixed it up for fun and variety and sliced them randomly in half lengthwise or crosswise.
Place the warm sliced potatoes in a large mixing bowl, add the lemon zest and juice to the bowl and gently mix. Allow the potatoes to cool after the lemon juice is added.
While you are waiting for the potatoes to cool, cut the kernels off the corn cob. Cut off the stem of the corn cob to create a flat surface. Place the shucked and cleaned ear of corn in a medium bowl with the flat stem side down in the bowl. Holding onto the tip use a sharp chef's knife and run the knife down the side of the corn cutting the kernels off the cob. Turn the cob a quarter turn and slice off the corn kernels. Repeat all the way around the corn cob until all the kernels are removed. Set aside.
Add the corn and the remaining prepared vegetables to the cooled potatoes, then toss in the fresh herbs. Add the vinaigrette, a couple of tablespoons at first. Mix then taste to see if dressing is needed. If so, add more salad dressing until it reaches your preferred consistency. You should have leftover vinaigrette. Store the leftover vinaigrette in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator to use for another salad.
Garnish with mint leaves and serve.
Potatoes are great sponges and will absorb anything you add to them. If you make this salad too far in advance the potatoes will soak up the dressing and it will appear dry. More dressing might be needed, just be careful not to make it too heavy the vinaigrette and oily.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Several years ago I discovered two cookbooks that opened a new world of food and cooking, Jerusalem and Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. When first published, I resisted reading these cookbooks because of the hype surrounding them. It is my experience, hyped-up media often disappoints and does not live up to the claims. Later, when I got around to reading the books for myself, I realized how completely wrong I was. These cookbooks and all their other publications, are worthy of all the praise they receive. Jerusalem and Ottolenghi cookbooks changed the way I approach learning about new ingredients, cuisines, and cooking.
There are many recipes between these two books that I love, like Roast Chicken with Clementines and Arak, and Basmati Rice with Saffron Barberries Pistachios and Mixed Herbs, just to name a couple. However, I wanted to feature their recipe for Saffron Chicken with Herb Salad. I just learned this recipe and believe is perfect for this time of year. I renamed it, Grilled Chicken Salad with Orange Saffron Dressing. This recipe is fresh and vibrant and easily prepared. Perfect for the days when the warm sun is beckoning you outside.
For another salad idea try chicken salad with avocado dressing.
Grilled chicken salad with orange saffron dressing shows how well bitter and sweet flavors blend to form a perfect union. To start, a whole orange simmers for an hour with honey and saffron until soft and the liquid is reduced. The bitterness of the orange peel mellows when combined with grilled chicken salad, crisp fresh fennel, and handfuls of fresh herbs. This is a well composed salad and with each ingredient plays an important role. The grilled chicken provides the backbone and mellows the concentrated flavor of the orange dressing. A composed blend of fresh herbs brightens and lightens the salad with sweet aromas and a refreshing bite. The finishing touch that ties everything together, is a spark of heat from the fresh hot red pepper.
Additionally, this recipe taught me a new trick. The secret to making this dressing is to blitz the whole cooked orange in the food processor with the reduced syrup. Using the whole fruit developed intense orange flavor that reminded me of concentrated frozen orange juice. Also, the best orange popsicle you ever had on a hot summer day. It is amazing how bittersweet fruit flavor can cut the heat of summer in an instant like diving into a mountain pool.
Personally, I hate throwing away citrus rind and am always looking for ways to include the zest in my meals. Citrus zest makes everything taste better so I was more than happy to use the orange rind. There is also less food waste. This grilled chicken salad recipe will turn heads and enlighten taste buds because of a simple and brilliant idea. It is a healthy and refreshing salad with hardly any added fat to weigh the meal down.
The moment I read these two cookbooks, it was love at first sight. Savoring the bold flavors in each tested recipe, inspired me to be more daring in my cooking. I no longer shied away from unfamiliar spices like za’atar and sumac, but embraced them. For the past several years, Jerusalem and Ottolenghi hold an influential spot in my life like The Silver Palate and Marcella Hazan cookbooks did in the 1980’s. Not only are they inspirational, but educational about new ingredients, fresh insights, and different cultures. I am forever grateful.
Grilled Chicken Salad with Orange Saffron Dressing
- 1 orange
- 2 1/2 TB 50g honey
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads
- 1 TB white wine vinegar
- 1 1/4 300 ml cup water
- 2 1/4 lbs / 1 k skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 2 small fennel bulbs or 1 large bulb
- 1 cup / 15 g picked cilantro leaves
- 2/3 cup / 15 g picked basil leaves torn
- 15 picked mint leaves torn
- 2 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 red chili thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make the Orange Saffron Syrup
Cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of the orange so it will stand flat on a cutting board. Cut the orange in half then cut each half into 6 wedges. Add the orange wedges into a medium sauce pan. Add the honey, saffron, vinegar, and water to the saucepan. If any of the orange wedges are exposed and not submerged under water, add more water so all oranges are covered. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the oranges to a boil. Then turn the heat down and simmer the oranges for about 1 hour. By the end the wedges will be soft and there will be about 5 tablespoons of syrupy liquid.
Once reduced, add the oranges and syrup to a food processor and process until the orange syrup is smooth. If needed, add water to thin out the sauce and reach a runny and smooth dressing. Set aside.
While the oranges are simmering, preheat the oven to 400F /200C. Gently pound the chicken breast with a meat mallet or the heal of your hand to create an even thickness in each piece. Mix the chicken breasts with 2 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 tsp kosher salt and a couple of grinds of pepper. Sear the chicken breasts for 2 minutes on each side on a stovetop grill pan, or cook on a grill. Transfer to a sheet pan or baking pan and cook in the oven until done. (If you are using the grill there is no need to cook the chicken in your oven.) Pierce each breast with a fork, if the juices from the chicken are clear, not pink or cloudy, then the chicken is done. Internal
temperature of 165F - 170F (74C - 77C). Depending on the thickness of each piece of chicken, roasting time could last for 5 to 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven (or grill) and set aside to cool.
Putting it all together
Once the chicken is cooled, shred the chicken breasts into decent size pieces and place in a bowl. Mix 1/2 of the orange dressing with the shredded chicken. Cut the fennel bulb in half and slice as thin as possible, lengthwise. Trim off the core if desired. Add the fennel, fresh herbs, remaining olive oil, crushed garlic, and lemon juice to the chicken. Gently stir to combine. Add the sliced red chili. Taste and correct for seasoning with olive oil, lemon juice or Kosher salt if needed.
For an easy shortcut, substitute the grilled chicken with shredded rotisserie chicken, or any leftover chicken.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.