Heirloom Tomatoes -Part 1 & Caprese Salad!

March 15, 2009Katie

So several years ago I had my first Caprese salad.  If you haven’t had one, it is juicy red tomatoes, fresh mozerella and basil all married together in a scrumptious salad.  I ate one for breakfast yesterday morning.  I was having a craving!  The recipe is simple but yummy. 

The Ingredients of Love:  your favorite tomatoes,  fresh mozerella cheese, fresh basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper

Buy some fresh mozeralla at your local grocery.  Mine carries several kinds now in the “fancy cheese section” but I really love the little round ones. They are also super fun to make Caprese ka-bobs for an appetizer but I’ll show you that later!  It also comes in larger sizes where you can slice it and layer it with sliced tomatoes.  So pick one!  Either slice your cheese, or place several of the cute little round ones on a plate.  Cut up your tomatoes the way you like them and add them to the plate. Chop up some fresh basil and sprinkle it over the top of the tomatoes and mozerella.  Drizzle a little balsamic and olive oil over the top and season with salt & pepper.  That’s it! Now enjoy the fresh yummy flavors!

**Note:  See that sad little pot of basil?  Because of our nutso weather here, I had this beautiful little guy planted in a special place in my flower bed and had to rescue it to a pot when our freeze hit this week! He’s recovering well though! 
Caprese Salad Recipe
(Courtesy of Katie Johnstonbaugh)
Fresh mozerella
Fresh basil
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Cut up tomatoes and cheese (if needed).  Arrange both on plate and drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

This recipe inspired me to get started on my heirloom tomatoes.  I’ve seen the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes featured on that cooking channel we all know and love and it got my curiosity up!  So yesterday I spent the morning planting starter seeds for my own plants.  For those of you (like me) who don’t know what heirloom tomatoes are, they are tomatoes that haven’t been bred for toughness (or hybrid).  Most of the tomatoes you get at your local grocery store are hybrid, and because of that, have tougher skins and less flavor than a heirloom kind. They come in colors I didn’t know existed in the tomato world – black, purple, green zebra striped, yellow and white (can you believe that?) So, if you can get heirlooms, lucky you!    But hey, I live in Oklahoma and have never seen the things yet, so I’m attempting (please remember for future posts that I said “attempting”) to grow them.

To start – you will first have to find heirloom tomato seeds.  I found mine on at tomatobob.com

What you will need:  containers to plant in, potting soil, heirloom tomato seeds,water and plastic wrap.

I went to my local garden store that gives tender loving care.  I purchased a  seed starter container that comes with a dome for around $6.  But you can also use lots of things you discard around your house…hey, it’s all about being green now right?  I also used a gallon milk carton & some 2 liter bottles sawed in half, and one of those salad tubs your spring mix or baby spinach come in.

I also purchased a bag of what I though was Miracle Grow potting soil but if you look real close at the picture above, you will see that it says Perlite. I opened the bag and wa
s dismayed to see all
white granules inside!  So, I put my shoes back on and went  back to the store and bought potting soil…sigh!  Your potting soil should have a nice mixture of topsoil, peat, compost and, yes, even perlite (argh).  Most potting soils come nicely mixed for you.

Fill your containers with the potting soil and level them out by shaking them back and forth.  

Next, poke a hole with a pencil eraser in the soil, if you have an aversion to dirt. If you’re a true gardener though, use your finger like me.

My goodness, but I have ugly fingers!  So sorry!  Now, sprinkle in your seeds.  I put 1-2 in each hole and I had about 9 seeds per package, so it worked beautifully with the segmented 9 compartments in this container.  

After each planting – make sure you lay the seed packet across the area so you remember which breed you planted.  I actually planted 12 different plants.  I want to have green, white, purple, black, red, yellow and pink versions but I tend to over-do sometimes!  I am already planting bugs in my husband’s ear as to how I’m going to fit these in our yard…I love you honey, if you’re reading this!

Now you have to lightly, and what I mean by lightly is – drizzle water over the soil so that it’s moist but not soaked, and a small stream of water is best so you don’t cause the seeds to move at all from a large flow of water.  

Now you need to label your tomato seeds, so that you can remember which is which.  

I used the cute little bags the tomatoes came in for my labels as they already had a picture and name of the tomato on them.  I took a hole punch and punched 2 holes very close together on the side of the bag and then stuck a toothpick through the holes to make a “flag”.  Then I stuck the toothpick into the dirt at the edge of the container.  It worked beautifully.  You could also type or hand write computer labels and wrap them around a toothpick very easily.

Now it is best to cover your containers.  It acts as a greenhouse and will keep your seeds moist (you won’t have to water as much).  My purchased one has a nice plastic lid to put over it.  But, for the “homeade” containers, I used cling wrap. Have you tried this new Glad Press N Seal stuff? It’s amazing and has changed my antagonistic relationship with cling wrap forever!  It works beautifully here.
Now you need to put your freshly planted seeds in a sunny location, where they will get 6-8 hours of sun per day.  Unless you are fortunate enough to live in an eternally warm location, you need to keep them inside until the ground temperature stays above 55.  I, of course, do NOT so, I will start these inside and transplant them later.  Stay tuned to whether this works for me and whether my super handy husband can equip me with enough space to transplant all of these!  My mom-in-law and sis-in-law will be the lucky recipients of the extras if they want them!  


  • Lorelei Sawtelle

    January 3, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    You do not have ugly fingers. One thing I'll miss about having sold our other house is my garden. 25x25. My green house 8x8. Yeah, I think I'm having cramps in my green thumb already. Love and hugs L
  • Kevin Sawtelle

    January 12, 2010 at 10:17 am

    In your Caprese Salad you call for fresh Mozerella cheese, but you buy your's at the store. I can show you how to make"real" fresh Mozerella at home.
    1. dishinanddishes

      January 12, 2010 at 10:28 am

      Kevin - I'd love the recipe - please share!
  • dishinanddishes

    January 12, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Lorelei - I covet that garden! We're expanding ours this year!
  • Kevin Sawtelle

    May 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

    I don't know if I ever got back to you on the cheese making. It's www.cheesemaking.com

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