Heirloom Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil Salad

Now that spring is officially here, it's time to say goodbye to comfort food and hello to light and healthy cooking - let's hope. On my way home from work I picked up a couple of heirloom tomatoes along with some fresh mozzarella and made this salad. It's amazing how fresh ingredients can take a simple dish from good to GREAT. When you're making a dish that uses such few ingredients, you really should use the best you can afford. A fruity extra-virgin olive oil and good aged balsamic vinegar are a must. For this dish I used some of my fancy balsamic vinegar that I have hidden in the back of my cupboard. Using really good balsamic vinegar makes all the difference in the world. I'm not talking about the stuff you buy at the grocery store, but the thick, rich, syrupy kind you spend some bucks on - and for this salad my friends, it was a special occasion.

If you've never seen or tasted an heirloom tomato before, they are rather ugly looking but don't let their appearance turn you off. Despite getting beat with an ugly stick, these babies are much more flavorful and juicy than your regular supermarket tomato. Since they're so rich in flavor they can be a bit expensive too - but it's worth the splurge. Consider them the BMW's of tomatoes :) I only bought two from the store but lagged a bit from when I brought them home versus when I actually made the dish. Therefore, one of the little guys was looking the tiniest bit scary - okay maybe it was smelling a little rancid - so lobster made me throw it away....DAMN HIM!! But the other one was delicious and fulfilled his heirloom tomato destiny and we had a delicious salad before dinner.

Heirloom Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil Salad
One fresh ball of mozzarella (usually packed in water)
Good aged Balsamic Vinegar (Fattoria Estense Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Sur La Table)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Marca Verde il Classico from Sur La Table)
Fresh basil leaves

Slice tomatoes 1/4-inch thick, brush with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Slice cheese into 1/8-inch rounds and season with S&P. Use one large basil leaf per tomato slice. For plating start with tomato then cheese then basil overlapping them a bit. Continue until all ingredients are used up. Drizzle all over with balsamic vinegar.