Summer means vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes. From tomato sandwiches, to BLTs, to just sliced and lightly salted, we eagerly consume these delicacies on an almost daily basis right up until cooler temperatures signal the end of tomato season.
One of my favorite ways to serve tomatoes is in a Caprese salad. This simple preparation finds sliced tomatoes layered with slices of whole-milk fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle the salad with olive oil, hit it with a little salt and pepper, and you have a perfect summer appetizer.
To “beef” up the salad, we often add sliced venison summer sausage to the mix. This recipe takes that basic dish and kicks it up a bit with the addition of balsamic vinegar glaze – then some time on the Traeger grill until the sausage and tomatoes are warmed through and the fresh mozzarella is melted and gooey. Serve it up with some thin toasted baguette slices and you have the perfect warm appetizer or even a light meal for a summer evening.
You can find balsamic glaze at most grocery stores, but it tastes even better if you make your own by bringing good balsamic vinegar to a light boil and cooking it down until it has reduced and thickened. When feeding a larger group, I offer two or more batches of glaze to make it easier for everyone to dip their bread.
Start by layering the tomatoes, cheese, and basil in a shallow aluminum pan. Overlap each new layer slightly so that all ingredients are visible. Season with salt, black pepper, and oregano. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic glaze over the ingredients.
Grill at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until everything is warmed through and the cheese has melted. Garnish with additional basil. Serve with thin slices of toasted baguette bread.
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