Caprese salad is traditionally a simple Italian salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. It was made to resemble the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. While traveling recently, I decided to create something similar to serve as a side dish to our picked up BBQ! We really enjoy al dente (cooked to be firm to the bite) vegetables. Grilled vegetables can be used as either a side dish, a main dish, or a delicious salad! Nearly any vegetable can be grilled. I suggest trying what is fresh in season, or what your family likes. Carrots, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, squash, and colorful, flavorful bell peppers. Most cook quickly and are extremely flavorful with just the hint of smoke from the grill; but you may need to par-cook the harder vegetables like potatoes, onions or carrots.
1 small Green Zucchini
1 small Yellow Squash
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Green Pepper
1/2 Cup Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half
Fresh Mozzarella Ciliegine (Cherry Size), I prefer Bel Gioioso brand
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Fresh Basil (optional)
Clean the vegetables and cut peppers into strips. Before grilling, toss them with a light coating of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Place the fastest cooking vegetables like the zucchini and squash in the hottest part of the grill, watching closely as they only take a minute or two to cook on each side, while the others including peppers take longer. Leave them long enough to create char marks, but not too long so that they become soggy. Remove the ones that are cooked to your liking and continue with the other vegetables. To prevent burning, sear them over high heat, then move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking.
Cut the peppers into small pieces once they are cooked and have cooled slightly. Toss and combine the cooled, bite sized vegetables with the cheese balls.
The Bel Gioioso brand is an all-natural Classic Italian cheese made in Wisconsin. 1/3 oz cherry size. Packed in water to stay soft. This mozzarella is all natural, made from local milk picked up daily and has no added hormones, antibiotics or preservatives. It is a great source of calcium and made with very little salt. Cheese can be seasoned to individual taste.
I prefer to keep the tomatoes fresh, without grilling. Combine with the other ingredients. Drizzle with balsamic and additional oil if necessary. Sprinkle with fresh basil and season with salt & pepper to taste! Serve at room temperature.