Zucchini Pesto Caprese Salad

I make this salad every summer on multiple occasions as a side dish, and often when I am invited to a friend's barbecue. The only unfortunate feature of cut zucchini is that it releases more water over time, and so the leftovers for this salad are mushy and watery. Make a small batch and eat it all up during one meal; it tastes best when freshly made. Play around with the proportions of this recipe, for example: add more tomatoes if you have them or if you want the tomato flavor to shine through, or use less fresh mozzarella if you don't like the texture or flavor of it. The star of the recipe is fresh basil pesto!

Zucchini Pesto Caprese Salad

(serves 4, as a side dish)

2 small to medium zucchini
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup fresh mozzarella (balls cut in half, or small cubes from a loaf)
4-5 tablespoons (or more) basil pesto (see below for recipe, or buy store-bought)

Rinse the zucchini and cut off both ends. Use a spiralizer to create zucchini spirals that are about 4-5 inches long. Place zucchini spirals in a large bowl and add the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Next, make the basil pesto.

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons raw almonds
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded

Place basil, minced garlic and almonds in a small food processor and pulse until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the processor with a rubber spatula, then pulse again to ensure no large pieces remain. Add olive oil, salt and pepper; blend thoroughly; scrape down the sides again, and blend one more time. Add the pecorino romano cheese and pulse a few times to combine.

Add about 4-5 tablespoons of pesto to the bowl with zucchini, tomato, and mozzarella. Use a rubber spatula to combine. Add more pesto as desired. Serve immediately.

Inspiration for this recipe came from healthygffamily.com. I made a lot of changes, but used her recipe as a starting point.