Every year the same thing happens. Summer temperatures roll in, bringing backyard BBQs and cravings for fresh, quenching foods along with them. It’s not too long after I bust out my tank tops and cut-off shorts that my go-to caprese salad begins making a recurring appearance.
I just can’t help but yearn for this caprese salad full of farmers market tomatoes, healthy fats, and home grown basil as soon as the temperatures reach “holy hot” status. This refreshing caprese salad is just about as fresh, light, and flavorful as you could want on a hot summer day.
So where does that “twist” come in?
Well, if you’ve read any of my previous contributor posts on Rubies and Radishes, it’s likely that you’ve heard me talk about my self-paced nutrition program, the Body By Butter Protocol. Despite what the name of my protocol may bring to mind, it’s actually much more than MCT oil and clarified butter. It’s an 8 week program that focuses on flavorful, colorful, fat-filled, and nutrient-dense foods, and most importantly, personal food tolerances.
The interesting thing I’ve learned from creating this program is that the majority of my students don’t tolerate cows’ dairy, while they tolerate goats’ dairy just fine. So in my recipe for Chopped Caprese Salad with a Twist, you’ll find that it’s missing one of the three critical ingredients found in traditional caprese salads. Yep, instead of mozzarella, this recipe features a goat chevre and chopped avocado. The goat chevre lends to the creaminess, and the avocado replaces the pillowy texture and subtle flavor of the mozzarella.
This recipe kicks up the flavor profile even more by dressing it with something other than balsamic. Here’s the thing about balsamic: most of the bottles you see lining the shelves of your grocery store aren’t traditional balsamic. Traditional balsamic is produced in small batches and long aged in barrels. The result is a thick, syrupy, intensely flavored product, and the price tag reflects that (think $250 for 3.5 ounces!).
So what is it that you’re purchasing in your grocery store that only costs a few dollars for a tall bottle? Well, label laws only require these grocery store vinegars to come from 20% native Italian grape must, compared to 100% grape must in traditional balsamic. The other 80% of the product comes from a combination of regular wine vinegar, and depending on where you’re getting it from, caramel coloring, preservatives, and even MSG. Yuck!
[pin-embed url=https://www.pinterest.com/pin/188025353172143837/ size=medium description=true]
Don’t get me wrong, there are some great balsamic vinegars available for under $20 (this is one of my favorites, and you can save 10% by using the code “rubies” at checkout!), but once you’ve tainted your palette with the real stuff, there is no going back when it comes to topping your fresh caprese salad.
Since I can’t afford true, traditional balsamic for an everyday backyard BBQ, I top my caprese salad with Primal Kitchen’s Greek Vinaigrette (which you can find HERE). It provides an additional source of healthy fats, herbs and spices, and helps to keep the salad prep super simple.
Onto that recipe!
Chopped Caprese Salad with a Twist
2.5 cups cherry tomatoes
1 english cucumber
1 cup fresh basil
5 oz fresh goat chevre
1/4 cup Primal Kitchen Greek Vinaigrette (find it HERE)
Juice of 1 small lemon
Sea salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
- Chop tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, and basil (reserve a few leaves for topping).
- Add to a large serving bowl, and dress with Greek Vinaigrette, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, being careful not to mash the avocado.
- Crumble goat chevre on top, and garnish with the reserved basil leaves. Serve shortly after making.