Red tomatoes, fresh white mozzarella, green basil, and toasted
Italian bread make a lovely fresh tower, bursting with flavor.
Take advantage of local farmers’ markets for organic tomatoes fresh
off the vine, which have far more flavor than store-bought
conventional varieties. It makes sense — they have extra time
to ripen with nutrients from their plant.
3 Large heirloom tomatoes (I use red, but yellow also work)
½ Cup chopped basil
2 large balls of fresh buffalo mozzarella (this mozzarella is stored in water)
fruity olive oil
a good balsamic vinegar
1 loaf of thick Italian bread
2 cloves garlic
Preheat the oven to broil.
Meanwhile, slice the bread into long 1 inch thick strips, or rounds,
depending on the type of bread you buy. Drizzle it each slice with a little olive oil on both sides. If you have a pastry brush, you can get maximum olive oil flavor with less fat by brushing the oil on the bread.
Slice the tomatoes and cheese into 1/3 inch rounds. The ends will, of
course, create a few smaller pieces — that’s fine.
On a metal mesh, or cookiesheet, arrange all the bread in one single layer. Put it in the oven.
Chop the basil and peel the garlic.
After the bread has been in about 8 minutes, flip it onto the other side. When the bread is dark and toasted such that the whole surface of one side is crusty, take it out. Cut a sliver off of the garlic, and rub the exposed end along the toasted side of the bread. Try not to puncture the bread. (NOTE: If your bread is too soft, you can broil it longer and/or crush the garlic and spread a thin layer on each slice of bread. You’ll need more garlic with this method) Broil the garlicky toasts another 4 minutes.
Arrange a piece of cheese, and then a tomato to cover each slice of bread. Sprinkle with basil, and drizzle with about ¼ teaspoon vinegar, ½ teaspoon oil per tomato, or to taste. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
ALTERNATIVE PRESENTATION: Present garlicky bread in a basket, and arrange
tomatoes and cheese on a platter. Sprinkle with salt and basil. Drizzle
with olive oil and vinegar. Place one premade Tomato Napoleon in the
middle. Allow people to serve themselves.