, , , , , , ,

As summer comes to a close, and all the great produce starts to disappear, we suddenly have the biggest cravings for all the fruits and veggies that are won’t be around anymore come fall. So, when Cindy and Nugget came across the best watermelon of the season during a little trip to a peach orchard in Calhoun County, Illinois while on a trip with their sweet friend Jackie, they knew they had to make the most of the delicious watermelon souvenir. Along with the watermelon, Cindy picked up some fresh tomatoes and the juiciest peaches we’ve had in years. All of us at Blended Kitchen were excited for the last of the summer produce!

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Frozen Balsamic Vinaigrette Food and Wine 
We got to thinking about what we could do with the watermelon, and Cindy remembered a party she and Peter went to not long ago. A woman there made a fabulous watermelon and tomato caprese-style salad with a delicious balsamic granita to top it off. We decided to put it to the test based on a recipe found in Food and Wine magazine. The results? It tasted like everything we love about summer in one phenomenal bite. If you are a fan of caprese salad, this twist on the dish will wow you and your guests. Trust us, you’ll never go back.

Start with the traditional caprese ingredients: mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Then add the watermelon and cucumber to kick it up a notch!

Arrange the sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, mozzarella cheese and cut tomatoes on a platter.

Sprinkle on the cubed watermelon.

Drizzle the olive oil onto the salad.

Sprinkle the julienned basil on top for that touch of spice (and pop of color!)

To make the granita, combine the balsamic vinegar and water in a dish. Mix well and set in the freezer. With a fork, we scraped it every 30 minutes.

The granita should be almost frozen – a very firm slush.

Scrape or dollop the balsamic granita evenly over the salad. Serve immediately.

Here’s the recipe:
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 pounds assorted tomatoes, including halved cherry, pear or grape tomatoes and large tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced very thin (we used a mandolin)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup seedless watermelon cubes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped or julienned basil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In an 8-inch-square glass baking dish, mix the balsamic vinegar and water. Freeze, stirring every 20 minutes with a fork, until the crystals are no longer slushy, about 1 1/2 hours.

On a large platter, arrange the sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and mozzarella in a slightly overlapping circle; season with salt and pepper. Scatter the cherry tomato halves, watermelon cubes and basil on top and drizzle with the olive oil. Scrape the granita over the salad with a fork, and serve.

MAKE AHEAD! The balsamic granita can be frozen for up to 3 days.