Now that our Farmers Market in Redmond is open we have an opportunity to get lots of fresh produce, cheeses and bread. All of those delicious things are available in this terrific summer salad. If we can't get rid of the rain then we can pretend it's summer by eating it on a plate.
Nothing says summer more than a warm tomato and this salad has them in spades. Since it's a bit early yet for big fresh summer types I used sweet cherry tomatoes. Fresh mozzarella is available at a number of stalls at the market and you can find organic. The bread can also be purchased from the market - you can just use the leftover heel for the croutons.
This is an easy recipe to make. Start by preparing your croutons:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice up enough 1/2 inch squares of white bread for as many salads as you are making. Take 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, mince and add to a small pan of extra-virgin olive oil (2 T) over low heat. Cook until the garlic is just translucent. Spread croutons on cookie sheet, pour oil over croutons through a sieve, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and then turn to coat before placing in the oven. Bake for ten minutes or until croutons are crunchy and lightly golden.
For the salad take about a cup of cubed fresh mozzarella and drizzle with1T olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Toss together in bowl and set aside to come to room temperature.
Take about a cup and a half of cherry tomatoes cut in half and place in bowl. Chiffonade 2 Tablespoons of fresh basil and toss with tomatoes. Drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar.
Combine the mozzarella and tomatoes together and then distribute on top of beds of baby spinach. Drizzle the remaining dressing from bottom of bowl on to salad and top with croutons. Ta dah!