I know that it is officially autumn, but I can’t help but hang on to some of the vestiges of this most recent summer, especially with the little heatwave we are having this week. I think it was one of the very best summers I can remember – certainly one of the sunniest. All that warm sun made for an excellent crop of tomatoes this year, and I think there are still some left at the farmer’s markets and grocery stores that are almost perfect. To honor these beautiful fruits (and the tireless farmers that grew them), I suggest one of the simplest, most fulfilling, and tastiest combinations: the Caprese salad. If you’ve never made one, you’ll be surprised how simple they are to make. All you need are some simple ingredients and a good sharp knife.
Use the freshest mozzarella you can find (just ask the folks at the deli counter where to find it in the store) and whatever heirloom tomatoes you can find. Slice each of these into slices of similar thickness, then arrange alternately on a serving plate. Tuck fresh, whole basil leaves in between each layer, then sprinkle the whole array with kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Drizzle with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if desired. Serve with a light Italian white wine (like pinot grigio) or a good European pilsner (like Grolsch or Peroni or Stella Artois). A simple, perfect way to hold on to the summer just a little while longer.