A tomato and mozzarella salad is a an absolutely classic Italian antipasti or appetizer and I love to prepare it as a tasty way to open a barbecue party.
Whenever I've had it in Italy it has been with beautiful fresh beef tomato slices inter layered with slices of mozzarella. Lightly seasoned and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil - fantastic.
In this recipe I've chosen to do it a little differently so that it's something that folks can pick at with a cocktail stick like olives.
Remember with all Italian food, the key ingredient is "fresh" and in this recipe, don't skimp, make sure that you go for fresh buffalo mozzarella.
According to my friend Ciro, the absolute best mozzarella comes from an area on the South West side of Italy (further south than Naples) where the buffalo are allowed to graze on the salt marshes by the sea. If you can find it, get it.
Sadly we're probably not going to compete with the quality of Italian tomatoes. It always amazes me that what looks like a semi ripe Italian tomato still tastes much better than anything I can buy in my local supermarket.
The fact is that our supermarket tomatoes are picked green so that they transport without bruising and then they are ripened with ethylene gas (just like ripening an avocado with a banana but on a more grand scale).
The flavor in the tomato comes from the sugar and acid content which is directly determined by the sunlight so inevitably even a tomato that has been semi ripened in sunlight is going to taste significantly better than anything ripened in ethylene gas which only changes the color.
Chop your tomatoes into quarters, dice up the mozzarella and throw both into a bowl. Rip up the basil leaves and mix this in, season with salt and pepper and round it off with a good lug of extra virgin olive oil.
TIP - Always rip basil leaves, never chop them. If you chop them they lose their texture and don't look as appealing.
That's all there is to it. Just let it stand for 30 minutes to let the flavors mingle and then your tomato and mozzarella salad is ready for you to tuck in.