This is a perfect Saturday afternoon lunch. Plus, with tomatoes coming in season now, you will have plenty of access to delicious heirloom tomatoes. I usually pick up a couple of heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's market because the tomatoes we are growing in our backyard are not ready yet. I also find nice heirloom tomatoes at Whole Foods. This is an example of an ingredient that you should spend the extra money on. The best grocery store tomato doesn't come close in flavor or texture to an heirloom one.
The pesto recipe makes more than you will need. You can freeze it in small batches, using an old ice cube tray, or it will keep in the refrigerator in an air tight container for 3-4 days. If you refrigerate it, there are a million ways to use it. A few of my favorites include adding it pasta, using it as a sandwich spread, mix it into brown rice, drizzle over a salad or use it as the base for a pizza.
Caprese Salad with Fried Mozzarella
1 cup of basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Handful of walnuts
1/4 cup of Parmesan-Reggiano
1/4 cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 heirloom tomato
1 cup canola oil (maybe more depending on the size of the pan you use)
1 five ounce ball of mozzarella (low moisture, not water packed)
2 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
In a food processor, add the basil, garlic, pine nuts (or walnuts), Parmesan, and pulse until chopped. With the processor on low, add the olive oil in a slow and steady stream until completely combined. Taste the pesto and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Slice the tomato in 1/2 inch slices and place on paper towels. This will absorb some of the tomatoes’ moisture.
Fill a large saute pan with 4 inches of oil, about 2 quarts, and heat oil to 350F.
While it’s heating up, slice the mozzarella into 1/2 inch slices. Prep bowl with beaten egg. On a plate, combine bread crumbs, crushed red pepper, oregano and salt. Double-dip mozzarella by dipping in the beaten eggs, then bread crumbs and repeating the steps. This will give you a thick and crunchy crust.
Gently place the mozzarella into hot oil using a slotted spoon and fry, about one minute, or until golden brown. Turn the mozzarella and allow to fry on the other side for another one minute. Transfer to a paper toweled plate to drain.
To serve place a slice of tomato on a plate. Top with a slice of fried mozzarella and a dollop of pesto.