I’ve decided to try my hand at container gardening this summer, so that I can enjoy fresh herbs all summer long. I’m not much of a gardener, but I’m hoping that if I keep it simple, they will do fine. So far, I’ve only planted a couple of basil plants and some mint. We’ve had warm sunny days and afternoon rain almost every day – the combination seems to be perfect for both the basil and mint. My basil plants are already really big, so I’m eating basil almost every day and looking for new ways to use it.
I remembered seeing a recipe for a watermelon basil margarita. While I’m not quite ready to infuse my good tequila with basil, the combination put me in mind of one of my favorite summer salads. I love a caprese salad – the combination of fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese and good balsamic is almost too good to be true. Yesterday I bought a seedless watermelon at the store, so I have that coming out my ears. I decided to try a watermelon caprese salad – just substituting the sweet ripe watermelon for tomatoes.
Since I’d already cut up half of the watermelon last night, this salad took only a few minutes to assemble, and was a nice treat with my lunch – combining the sweet watermelon and sweet balsamic vinegar, it felt almost like desert. I used good quality mozzarella and balsamic to make this.
For the mozzarella, I used ovoline (large balls of fresh whole-milk mozzarella packed in water). I usually buy the smaller balls (bocconcini), but I didn’t find them at the store this time. The larger balls are fine – they just required me to cut off a portion to use in the salad.
For the balsamic, I like to use Lucini Gran Riserva in a recipe like this. It’s a very sweet, aged balsamic with great flavor. It’s relatively expensive (about $16 for an 8.5 ounce bottle) so I wouldn’t even consider using it in a dressing or sauce. But in a salad such as this, it only takes a small drizzle and the expense is really worth it to me. I’ve had this bottle since spring, and I’ve used less than one-third of it – the flavor is so intense a little bit really does go a long way.
With that said, the salad just requires assembling on a plate:
- sliced, seedless (or seeded) watermelon
- fresh mozzarella
- fresh basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped
- drizzle of good-quality balsamic vinegar