With summertime on its way, I thought I would celebrate a little early with a fresh salad that I always associate with the warm days of the summer season. One of my favorite parts about the season are heirloom tomatoes, which have started to crop up in grocery stores. They come in a beautiful variety of colors and sizes, and have a wonderfully sweet flavor. Pair them with fresh basil, fresh mozzarella cheese, and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and you’ve got a simple, yet delicious dish.
However, as a non-dairy eater, I have sadly been plagued with the inability to eat cheese—tragic, I know. Although my life can no longer be blessed with sharp cheddar, fresh mozzarella, and smoked gouda goodness, there are plenty of cheese and dairy alternatives that can help fill the gaps in my heart that come from following a non-dairy diet.
One of those alternatives is avocado. Avocados have a wonderful creamy texture that, when paired with their naturally rich taste, can almost match the texture and quality of cheese. Plus, avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat (the good fat!). I therefore decided to create my own “caprese” salad by substituting avocado for the fresh mozzarella. No, it won’t have the same classic taste of a traditional caprese salad, but it comes pretty close! Besides, I don’t see any point in denying myself from enjoying a delicious dish simply because my body cannot tolerate dairy. That’s the beauty of homemade food—you can tailor everything to your personal needs.
I hope this post inspires you to modify a recipe that allows you to embrace any of your food allergies or preferences instead of fighting them. Happy eating!
“Caprese” Salad with Avocado
- Heirloom tomatoes, sliced (I used mini heirloom tomatoes, but regular ones will work just as well!)
- Ripe avocado, sliced or cubed
- Fresh basil (chopped or left whole)
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
As you can see, I left out the quantities in this recipe because it completely depends on how big of a salad you want to make. Just be sure there is a 1:1 ratio of tomatoes to avocado, and that there is plenty of fresh basil to have some in every bite (either whole leaves or chopped pieces). I also didn’t measure the olive oil or balsamic vinegar, but simply drizzled them over the top of the arranged ingredients. Once everything is plated, add salt and pepper to taste. Eat immediately to prevent the avocado from browning process. If you plan to make the salad ahead of time, squeeze some lemon juice over the avocados before plating to slow down the browning. Of course, you can also use fresh mozzarella cheese and make a real caprese salad!