Farm Fresh Caprese Salad

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One thing I miss about living in Washington is the variety of farms and fresh produce. There’s nothing better than a juicy Honeycrisp apple straight from the orchard in the fall. I was excited (and surprised) to hear about a farm here in Las Vegas where you can pick fruits and vegetables right from the source.

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Gilcrease Orchard offers a nice break from the brown, dry desert. It was fun to walk through the fields and orchard, looking for the freshest produce. We went home with some beautiful tomatoes. I will definitely be back in the fall when there are pumpkins and apple cider doughnuts!

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We decided to put the fresh tomatoes to good use and make a refreshing caprese salad. Since we had one tomato left from the grocery store, I used that, too. The difference between the tomatoes from the store and the farm was amazing! Physically, those from the farm were darker in color, juicier, softer and had more seeds. The store-bought tomato was easier to slice because it was firmer, but when it came to taste, it was kind of plain and watery. Lesson learned – farm fresh is much more flavorful! Even Rob, who is happy with non-organic produce from Walmart, was genuinely shocked at the difference. Because this salad is so simple, top-quality tomatoes and mozzarella are important and very noticeable.

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Farm Fresh Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

On a large platter, evenly space out tomato slices. Top with mozzarella sliced and then basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and/or pepper.

Grilled Watermelon and Feta Salad

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Hello, June! How did you sneak up on us already? I may not be ready for the heat, but I am ready for the barbecues! This grilled watermelon and feta salad is a great addition to any summer cookout. The charred watermelon adds a unique, seasonal twist to the classic combo.

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I used the same ingredients to make two versions of the salad. The stacked salad is a fun, aesthetically-pleasing way to serve it at a backyard barbecue. For a traditional side, the tossed salad can be made in one bowl and easily transported to a party. The cool, refreshing dish is sure to be a hit.

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Grilled Watermelon and Feta Salad: Two Ways

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole feta cheese
  • 1/2 large watermelon, cut into slices 1″ thick
  • 1 avocado
  •  2 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and paper to taste
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Place balsamic vinegar in a small sauecpan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until thickened, about five minutes. Let cool.
  2. Lightly drizzle olive oil over watermelon and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill quickly, about 30 seconds per side, until slightly charred.
  3. Toss arugula with a teaspoon of olive oil.
  4. For the stacked salad: Cut feta cheese length wise into four smaller squares. Cut watermelon slices into 8 squares that are the same size as the feta. Place one watermelon square on the plate and then top it with the feta square, another watermelon square and a slice of avocado. Sprinkle desired amount of arugula on top of watermelon stack and drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar.
  5. For the tossed salad: Place 1 cup of arugula on a plate. Cut cheese, watermelon and avocado into bite-sized squares, then add to arugula and toss. Drizzle with reduced balsamic vinegar.

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Caprese Chicken Salad

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Crazy for caprese! I love the combination of flavors, textures, and freshness in this recipe: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic. It requires few ingredients, but results in a lot of flavor. My boyfriend went to Wyoming to visit his parents last weekend and came back with home-grown tomatoes from his mom’s garden, so we put them to good use with this delicious dinner!

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tomato
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 2 cups spinach

How-to:

  1. Prepare chicken (on the grill or however you prefer). While cooking, pour balsamic vinaigrette into small sauce pan and heat until boiling. Stir in butter until melted, then simmer.
  2. Place chicken on bed of spinach. Top with mozzarella cheese, basil leaves and tomato slices. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Serve warm.