I hesitate to even call this a recipe because it’s so absurdly simple. It’s more of a concept. I’ve stopped eating dairy while I’m breastfeeding, and while most of the time it’s no big deal, there are a few things that just don’t quite work without cheese. Like quesadillas, pizza (let’s be real here), and caprese salads.
Or so I thought.
There is something that is just so summer about crisp tomatoes, fresh basil, and chewy mozzarella. While I was busy lamenting the void of caprese salads in my life, I got an idea. Mozzarella is a very mild cheese, almost flavorless at times. Sort of like tofu, right? And really, the olive oil, salt, and pepper are what make this salad so good.
My newly vegetarian sister was skeptical. I sliced it up and served it anyway. We both agreed, it was good. Like really good. I don’t even miss the cheese type of good.
Vegan Caprese Summer Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 block firm or extra-firm tofu, pressed and drained
6 ripe Roma tomatoes
20-30 leaves fresh basil
freshly ground black pepper
Using a tofu press or press slabs of tofu between paper towels and heavy cookbooks. Once the tofu is packed firm and drained of almost all liquid, cut and slice into even squares. The more liquid you can drain from the tofu, the more the texture will mimic mozzarella.
Slice tomatoes – try to get the same thickness of the tofu slabs. On a large platter or individual salad plates, assemble the salad by layering one tomato, one piece of tofu, and one basil leaf – then repeat.
Drizzle the entire salad with a healthy dose of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Do not be stingy.
I rarely try to force a dish into being vegan, when cheese is such an integral ingredient. But in this case it works, and it’s delicious. Since tofu is so high in protein, this replacement even boosts the nutrition quite a bit! You can eat a large salad as a complete meal, or serve it as an appetizer or starter.