You can enjoy all the flavors of summer in this low-carb and gluten-free Tomato, Olive, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Basil Vinaigrette.
For Phase One Fridays I highlight Phase One recipes from the past that have been my personal favorites. I make this salad every summer, as soon as Costco starts carrying the fresh mozzarella pearls and I have fresh basil in the garden!)
This Tomato, Olive, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Basil Vinaigrette is the perfect salad to make when it's fresh tomato season and your garden is bursting with tomatoes and fresh basil. However it can also have mood-enhancing properties if it's a very rainy first week of summer where you live, even if you have to buy tomatoes from Costco and it takes every basil leaf you can manage to snip from your puny plants.
I have to confess though, it was the adorable mozzarella pearls made by Bel Gioisio Cheese I found at Costco that really inspired this salad. If you're not familiar with fresh mozzarella, it's a very soft cheese that comes packed in brine. The "pearls" are tiny pieces about the size of marbles, and they were delicious with the tomatoes and fresh basil.
Basil is considered by many to be the best of all herbs. I've grown it in my garden for about 20 years, and I always start with one or two purchased seedlings, then plant basil seeds for an inexpensive patch of basil. Every year I freeze fresh basil from my garden, and use it all through the winter. The fresh basil flavor is the essence of this salad.
If it was fresh tomato season I'd make this with juicy ripe tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks, but I had to make do with these grape tomatoes from Costco, which are actually pretty tasty.
I tried the salad a few different ways, but I actually preferred it with plain old black olives from a can rather than with Kalamata or Spanish olives. I used the extra large sized olives.
These are the adorable mozarella pearls. At my Costco they were $3.59 for a one-pound container, which I thought was pretty reasonable. I drained the olives and mozarella pearls, then cut the tomatoes, olives, and mozzarella all in half to make uniform sized pieces.
Wash the fresh basil and chop (or tear if you're one of those cooking purists, but I never could see what the fuss was about chopping!) Do this right before you're ready to mix it into the dressing.
I used my favorite vinaigrette, but you can use any type of homemade or bottled vinaigrette that you like the flavor of. Mix the chopped basil into the vinaigrette.
Gently combine the dressing with the cut tomatoes, olives, and mozzarella pearls, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. This is best served immediately, but I had some that had been in the fridge overnight that I shared with my contractors, and even though tomatoes never taste as good after they've been refrigerated, they gave it a thumbs up.
Tomato, Olive, and Mozzarella Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
(Makes about 4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)
1 can large black olives, cut in half (6 oz. olives after draining)
3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup fresh mozzarella pearls, cut in half (or use regular fresh mozzarella and cut into pieces
1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing (I used my favorite vinaigrette, but any type of homemade or bottled vinaigrette that you like will work. A good choice would be Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing, which is widely available and has only 1 gram of sugar.)
1/2 cup chopped or torn fresh basil leaves
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Drain olives and fresh mozzarella pearls while you cut cherry tomatoes in half; place tomatoes in bowl. Cut olives and mozzarella pearls in half and put in bowl with tomatoes.
Wash basil and spin dry in salad spinner or dry with paper towels, then chop or tear basil into small pieces. Mix chopped basil into vinaigrette dressing, then gently combine dressing with the tomato mixture. Season to taste with fresh ground black pepper and serve immediately.
South Beach Diet / Low-Carb Diet Suggestions:
The fresh mozzarella I used in this salad has only 5 grams of fat per ounce, making this a great choice for any phase of the South Beach Diet, and the recipe is also great for mother other low-carb eating plans. If you're using a purchased vinaigrette, be sure to choose one with less than 3 grams of sugar per serving for South Beach dieters.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you're a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.
More Ideas with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Crustless Tomato-Basil Tarts with Mozzarella and Goat Cheese ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Fresh Mozzarella Bocconicini with Oven-Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto Oil from My Husband Hates Vegetables
Grilled Zucchini Caprese Stacks ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Basil and Garlic Marinated Mozzarella Sandwich with Tomatoes from Lucullian Delights
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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