When a salad is composed of such simple ingredients, it’s well worth seeking out the best. Look for handmade mozzarella, readily available in most specialty food shops. Tomatoes, the other star ingredient, should be ripe but firm.
- 4 cups lightly packed basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- ⅓ cup toasted pine nuts divided
- ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups tender baby lettuces
- 4 6- to 8- ounce balls fresh mozzarella cheese cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
- 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
- Fresh basil leaves to garnish
- Crusty bread for serving
- PESTO: Combine basil, garlic, and half the pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With motor running, pour in olive oil and process until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
- SALAD: Heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil until vinegar is reduced by half. (It should be thick and syrupy but still pourable.) Set aside to cool slightly.
- Mound greens on a serving platter or divide among 4 plates. Top with mozzarella and tomatoes. Spoon pesto over top and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Scatter with fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately with crusty bread and any remaining pesto on the side.
Photo Credit Lisa Monahan