An arranged salad is the perfect dish to bring to a summer potluck. One of my favorite arranged salads is the caprese. You know the one, slices of vine ripe tomatoes layered with wedges of fresh mozzarella and sprinkled with fresh-picked basil leaves. A sprinkle of salt and pepper, and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and the salad is complete.
What if we take that wonderful caprese salad and just tweak it a bit… or a lot! I was inspired by watermelon season and the bunches of beets I found at the farmers market. I thought, well why not? Why not add thin slices of watermelon and roasted beets to the salad. And when I did, I created a dish that everyone fell in love with. Not only is it beautiful, but the crisp bite of the watermelon adds a certain tang. The salad gets even better with a crumble of crisp bacon, and drizzle of citrus infused oil and vinegar.
Give this salad a try while the summer breezes are still warm, and the watermelon are ripe and juicy! To motivate you, here a few fun pics of the watermelon and salad dressing prep — doesn’t it make your mouth just water?
Watermelon and Beet Caprese Salad with Peach-Basil Vinaigrette
6 medium beets
1 small seedless watermelon
6 to 8 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced into thin rounds
1 bunch fresh basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
4 slices bacon, cooked, chopped
1 medium shallot, peeled and finely diced
1 ripe peach, peeled and finely diced
2 tablespoons, chopped fresh basil
¼ cup vinegar (I used peach infused white balsamic)
½ cup olive oil (I used lime-infused extra virgin olive oil)
Preheat the oven to 375°. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place them into a baking dish. Bake until the beets just begin to soften, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Remove the baking dish from the oven and cool the beets to room temperature. Remove the skin from the beets by rubbing with paper towels. Use a mandolin to slice the beets as thin as possible.
Cut the watermelon into ¼-inch slices. Use a round cookie cutter to cut circles in the watermelon about the size of the beets and tomatoes.
Begin layering the salad. Lay a slice of tomato on the platter. Top with a slice of mozzarella, a round of watermelon and finally a sliced beet. Continue layering until the platter is filled. Tuck leaves of basil in and around everything. Sprinkle the salad with some of the salt and pepper. Top with bacon pieces. Chill the salad while you make the vinaigrette.
Place the shallot, peach and basil into a mason jar. Pour in the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on the jar and shake to combine.
When you are ready to serve, use a spoon to drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the salad.