It’s starting to warm up here in Israel. The rains are over (and what rains they were this year!), we had a proper sandstorm (not fun), and the temperature is rising every day. As soon as I get my first taste of spring I start to crave light, bright, fresh foods. That’s where this salad comes in. I got a beautiful bunch of fresh basil from my local produce market and the intoxicating smell followed me all the way home, planting the idea of this vinaigrette in my head.
Consider this salad a deconstructed caprese, a dish comprised of what may just be my favorite flavor profile of all time: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Using the best, freshest ingredients possible is of course key here. The basil vinaigrette is based on a traditional one with lemon and mustard. It can be made in advance and in fact only improves with a day or two in the fridge to allow the basil to really infuse the oil. I like to use bocconcini, which are very small balls of fresh mozzarella, but any size or shape will do. Likewise, grape tomatoes or slices of whole tomatoes can be used in place of the halved cherry tomatoes.
- 6 ounces arugula
- 10 ounces cherry tomatoes (about 12), halved
- 4 ounces bocconcini, or cubed fresh mozzarella
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small bunch basil (about 3 ounces), leaves picked
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- Combine the arugula, tomatoes, and mozzarella in a salad bowl or on individual plates.
- Drizzle the basil vinaigrette (recipe below) over.
- Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse to mince.
- Add the basil leaves and pulse a few times.
- Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard and process until fully combined and emulsified (there may still be small bits of basil).
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately or store in a cruet or closed glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Linked up at Tastetastic Thursdays over at A Little Nosh