My girls, or at least the two who are old enough to have opinions on the matter, have two favorite restaurants in Seattle. One of them I don’t like at all. The other is Tutta Bella, an excellent Neapolitan-style pizzeria. Their pizzas are very good, but there’s an even-better salad that I order every single time I go.
To be clear, I also always eat pizza, but my loyalties are divided there: sometimes I have the roasted vegetables, sometimes a margarita pizza crowned with a tangle of arugula. But I do not vary my salad order ever. Because the salad is so good. Mmm.
Oh, what? Sorry, you thought this was the part where I gave you the recipe for Tutta Bella’s salad? No, no. It would be easy enough to make (the ingredient list is here: romaine ribbons, fresh mozzarella, fennel, tomato, english cuke, basil, dijon vinaigrette), but I didn’t have any fennel or romaine, and I wanted to use up that basil oil, and you know how these things go for home cooks. Real life takes its meandering way and instead you’re stuck with this pared-down cucumber and mozzarella salad, studded with little tomatoes and sprinkled with basil. Just the best parts, you might say. You’re welcome.
Cucumber Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Tomatoes: Taste a sliver of cucumber peel. If it is too tough or bitter for your taste, peel the cucumber. Either way, split the cucumber lengthwise to remove the seeds and slice it into half-rounds. Top with a big handful of fresh mozzarella pearls, halved cherry tomatoes, and slivered basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt and dress just before serving so that the cucumbers don’t start to wilt and release moisture. I dressed this salad with that easy basil oil and a few good pinches of salt, but you could also just use olive oil and salt (perhaps adding a bit more shredded basil to the salad than I did) or do as the good folks at Tutta Bella do and use a dijon vinaigrette.