I love coming up with new twists on old favorites. I mean, why re-invent the wheel when a culinary success is already well loved? Summertime always inspires me to take a fresh look at cool, crisp salads.
This one is a twist on a simple guacamole and served in the style of a traditional summer favorite, the Italian Caprese salad. A Caprese salad is composed of vine-ripe tomatoes, summer sweet basil, fresh mozzarella cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar layered together for a beautifully colorful and delicious starter salad. Being from Texas and not Italy though, I think summertime just begs for Mexican food: juicy fajitas straight off the grill, icy cold margaritas and homemade cinnamon ice cream. And, of course, salsas and guacamole made from the freshest summer produce: tomatoes, jalapenos, tomatillos, cilantro, and avocados are all at their peak in the summer. This type of meal requires no fancy fuss or special sauces, just fresh ingredients that require little effort to dress up.
Following is my recipe for layered guacamole salad. The “Caprese-style” presentation of this starter is what makes it unique. While not easy to dip a chip in, this salad is great for eating alone or layering in a tortilla as a condiment for spicy chicken or beef fajitas. It also makes a “fancy” starter for a dinner party alongside a Dirty Mexican Martini with plenty of jalapeno-stuffed olives. Remember that the simplicity of this recipe requires the freshest ingredients possible. Choose vine-ripe tomatoes that are smooth skinned, dark red and heavy for their size. Avocados should give just slightly when gently squeezed. The skin should not have soft or brown spots. Choose thin-skinned limes (I have found they are the juiciest and easiest to squeeze) and pop them in the microwave for 20 seconds or so before squeezing and they will give more juice. And last, but not least, take time to enjoy!
Layered Guacamole Salad
2 Medium vine-ripe tomatoes
2 Medium avocadoes
Sea salt and back pepper
2 T balsamic vinegar
Thickly slice the tomatoes into rounds
Peel and pit the avocado and slice it into half moons
Layer the two alternately on a platter
Sprinkle with salt and pepper
Squeeze the lime(s) over the salad being sure to cover it all. (especially over the avocado, it will help keep it from browning)
Drizzle the vinegar over all