And POOF! Just like that, we have Summer.
One week ago, I was using my fireplace to keep warm at night. And then the next thing I knew, it was a balmy 90 degrees.
I guess the only thing that’s ever been consistent about the weather here in New England, is that it’s wildly inconsistent.
I think this current heat wave is just a flash in the pan, and we’ll be returning to somewhat cooler temperatures this week. But oh my gosh, it’s been SO glorious to revel in all my favorite Summer activities. I’ve been walking the beach and reading by the pool almost every single day. I’ve already managed to eat my weight in ice cream. And I’ve enjoyed several outdoor “patio beers” at sunset.
I finally feel re-charged after our long, cold Winter (and our nearly non-existent Spring). It’s like all is right with the world once again.
Needless to say, all this warm weather has got me dreaming wildly about Summer foods. Which is how I ended up creating this Tropical Summer Caprese Salad. It’s amazing what you can invent when you refuse to turn your oven on for fear of sweating through your clothing.
On a hot day, there is nothing I crave more than a caprese salad. I could easily eat one every single day between the months of June and August. Sometimes, I like to bulk up my caprese salads with additional greens and baked almond-crusted chicken. And sometimes, I like to serve my caprese salad on skewers for easy eating at parties.
But today, we’re going super tropical. I’m mixing fresh mozzarella and basil with kiwi, pineapple, cilantro, hazelnuts (hooray for crunch!) and a little bit of heat from a dash of cayenne pepper. It’s a salad that I can just about guarantee you’ll be making (and eating!) all Summer long.
Inspired by the shape of the fresh ciliegine mozzarella, I decided to use my melon baller for the kiwi and pineapple. This, of course, isn’t necessary. You could cut the fruit into small cubes. But I had fun doing it this way (and I think it looks cute!). And it was nice to dust off my poor melon baller, which is a utensil that only gets used two or three times a year at most.
You don’t need a lot of dressing for this Tropical Summer Caprese Salad, because the fruit will release a lot of juice once it’s been cut. I might have added even a bit more cayenne pepper than the recipe calls for, because I like spice. But feel free to go as light or heavy as you dare with the cayenne. The heat provides a wonderful contrast to the cool, sweet fruit. So whatever you do, don’t skip it entirely.
This salad is best when it’s enjoyed immediately after making it. And it should be eaten cold. So make sure your pineapple and kiwi are chilled to start. Then just toss and enjoy!
- 8 ounces fresh ciliegine mozzarella balls, drained
- 2 cups chopped (or balled) pineapple
- 4 kiwi, peeled and chopped (or balled)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tsp. agave nectar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
- Add the mozzarella, pineapple and kiwi to a large bowl.
- In a separate small bowl, stir together the olive oil, lime juice, agave, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Pour this dressing over the mozzarella and fruit, tossing gently to combine.
- Add the hazelnuts, cilantro and basil. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.