July 4, 2017

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomarto! Plus… Caprese Salad

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomarto and Caprese Salad - Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

A good Caprese salad is a culinary endpoint! It’s a dish that’s perfectly balanced and downright delicious, to improve upon it by changing its basic form or structure is simply impossible.

I think it’s happening! That weird thing that clicks into gear when we reach a certain age, (HA… only people who reach a certain age, say things like… ‘reach a certain age’). Anyho… you know when you’re no longer happiest dashing about with friends, off to foodie happenings, spending hours getting ready for a big event or even planning your next travel destination? Nope, you want more out of life, you want your house to be a home, and no home is complete without…. wait for it – home grown tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes or this household’s favourite, the heirloom tomato.

It came on slowly and started innocently enough, it sounded fun to dabble a little, indulge in the odd daydream about it and plan out a space to keep it even, just simple fun! Then BOOM…, before I knew it, suddenly, and without any warning at all, I find I’ve crossed the line and am hooked; and there ain’t no going back! This my friends… is exactly what has happened to me. One day I was actively and very enthusiastically excusing myself from trips to Bunnings hardware store, and the next I had written a list and was making sometimes daily trips for supplies or ideas. Oh, you might have a laugh at that – but friends, this could be serious!

It’s official, this little shenANNAgator has been bitten with the DIY and gardening bug, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to leave me anytime soon. At first I excused myself because we needed to fix the front garden because ol mate Cyclone Debbie smashed everything to pieces, but nope… it doesn’t seem to be the case.

3 months on from that life changing storm, my little tubs of fruit ‘n vegies are the first thing to greet me when I get home from work each day, and I have now crossed the line completely by sharing regular updates on my socials about just how big and beautiful my babies have grown! Here in  tropical North Queensland, our wintertime is like a perfectly delicious summer in the southern states of Australia, we get to grow tomatoes and basil in wintertime. I know, it’s freakishly back the front. Up until now, I’ve been simply adding a splash of water and admiring my beauties, but now, it’s pickin’ time and better than that – it’s eatin’ time!

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomarto and Caprese Salad - Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

I love you from my head tomatoes!

Could there be anything more perfect than a freshly picked ripe tomato, still warm from the sun? I have caught myself heading out to the garden with the salt grinder in hand, as nothing beats a gorgeously ripe tomato on it’s own with a sprinkling of salt I’ve found. Before I knew it, the whole crops seemed to ripen at once and even if I pulled up a chair and made tomatoes my main meal each day, I couldn’t quite eat them all. So it’s time to wheel out the Chef within and plan a few of my fave tomato dishes me thinks.

An oldie but a goldie, the Caprese salad. You will need to pick the best damn tomatoes straight from your vine (or greengrocer if you don’t grow them), mozzarella, and basil, put ’em on a plate, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, drizzle them with the best olive oil, and stop right there. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and step away from the balsamic vinegar. Serve it. Admire its perfection. Sip your wine with the knowledge that you’ve participated in something beautiful.

Tell me dear reader, how’s your winter garden growing? Are you working on any DIY projects at the minute? And what fabulous tomato dishes do you suggest I make? 

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomarto and Caprice Salad - Anna Johnston - https://shenannagans.com

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time:  0 minutes

  • 4 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 4 bocconcini, sliced
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
  • Salt and cracked black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
  1. Slice each tomato from top to bottom into 1cm thick slices. Place on a serving plate and top with the bocconcini and basil leaves.
  2. Just before serving, drizzle the salad with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

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Megan Jerrard - October 4, 2017 Reply

So happy to hear that your vegetables have begun sprouting after the horrible cyclone. Those tomatoes look so ripe! Thanks for the Caprese salad recipe – now that we’re living rurally ourselves and have room to plant veggie gardens, I might just start with some tomatoes!

Vanessa - September 19, 2017 Reply

This is one of my fav travel meals to order (and to have at home too). It’s usually affordable, it feels somewhat healthy compared to all the travel carbs I’m indulging in, and it always turns out delicious.

    Anna - September 19, 2017 Reply

    Yes, for sure. It’s hard to beat such a simple dish and with so few readily available ingredients, it’s always affordable.

jessica - September 14, 2017 Reply

Caprese Salad is healthy and tasty.. i would try it. thanks for sharing

    Anna - September 14, 2017 Reply

    Yes, it is very tasty Jessica. It’s one of my fave simple salads when tomatoes are in season.

Sue Slaght - July 20, 2017 Reply

I LOVE caprese salad. I think I ate it at least once a day in Italy. So easy to make at home too.I am smiling away at your aging process and the embracing of gardening. Funny I wen the other way but it is rather frustrating being a gardener where we live. The growing season is painfully short due to cold temps. That’s my excuse and I am sticking too it. Looks like you have a natural green thumb. What a crop!

Daphne Goh - July 18, 2017 Reply

I have never grown any tomatoes before. It’s so good to grow your own vegetables. Is your tomatoes Truss tomatoes? I especially love this particular as they are really sweet & juicy.

The only veggie we attempted growing in my courtyard is long red chillies and bird’s eye chillies. Had really good harvest as they grow really well from tiny seeds. The birds were here to have some quite often too!

Kris - July 11, 2017 Reply

Working on composting my garden in preparation for some taste tomatoes to be planted.

Ain’t nothing like a capreses salad. Yum yum yum

    Anna - July 12, 2017 Reply

    WAWHOOOO… that is so rad. I especially admire you are prepping your garden in minus degree temperatures. 🙂

mjskitchen - July 10, 2017 Reply

There is nothing better than a vine ripened tomato, that is for sure!! I have tomatoes on the vine, but nothing has ripened yet. Soon! Can’t wait to make our few caprese. Love the skewers idea!

    Anna - July 10, 2017 Reply

    I hear that MJ, vine ripened and home grown are the best! 🙂
    Cant wait to read posts on what you do with your tomatoes. Happy harvesting!

heather (delicious not gorgeous) - July 9, 2017 Reply

mmm i don’t grow anything, but my aunt does tomatoes every summer, and i’m lucky enough that she shares! haven’t even done caprese this summer yet because the tomatoes are so good solo.

    Anna - July 10, 2017 Reply

    Wawhooo to having an aunt that share her bounty of fresh produce with her foodie niece, that rocks! Haha… and I know what you mean about the tomatoes being so good on their own, enjoy lovely! 🙂

John/Kitchen Riffs - July 6, 2017 Reply

Growing stuff is fun, isn’t it? Love this salad — nice combo of flavors that play so well with each other. Thanks!

    Anna - July 10, 2017 Reply

    Soooo fun John! Absolutely loving it, tastes extra great too. 🙂

Norma Chang - July 6, 2017 Reply

Congratulations Anna. Those sure are perfect tomatoes. What else is growing in your garden.

    Anna - July 10, 2017 Reply

    We’ve got some asian greens, basil, coriander and lettuce for eating, and aloe vera and lavender for medicinal purposes. Its amazing. 🙂

Denise Browning - July 6, 2017 Reply

Simply my favorite fresh salad. I order or make it every time that I have the opportunity of. Great quality ingredients make all the difference here due to the simplicity of the dish. I wish I could have such an expensive balsamic to dress my salad — it is worth!
Sending hugs and great vibes from TX. xx

    Anna - July 10, 2017 Reply

    Wawhoooo to being a caprese salad fan too. You must be about to get your first crops in over there?
    Happy hugs and loves from sunshiny QLD. 🙂 xo

Lorraine @Not Quite Nigella - July 5, 2017 Reply

Well done Anna growing your own food! It’s a skill I totally lack so I really admire it in others 🙂

    Anna - July 10, 2017 Reply

    Why thank ya Ms NQN, Im rather chuffed to hear you admire little ol me. 🙂

Tandy | Lavender and Lime - July 5, 2017 Reply

I love growing my own and really want to get my garden back on track. But with the drought there seems to be no point. Enjoy harvesting an abundance of tomatoes Anna 🙂

    Anna - July 10, 2017 Reply

    I can’t wait for you to get your garden back on track, fingers crossed the drought breaks soon so you can.
    And much enjoyment is being had from my harvesting. 🙂 Thanks Tandy!

Angie@Angie's Recipes - July 5, 2017 Reply

Fresh and delicious…a perfect summer salad!

    Anna - July 10, 2017 Reply

    Or in my case… the perfect winter salad! Teehee. 🙂

Liz (Good Things) - July 5, 2017 Reply


    Anna - July 5, 2017 Reply

    Yes my friend! Our tomatoes are PERFECTION indeed. 🙂

Debra - July 5, 2017 Reply

Your tomatoes are gorgeous, and I guess I’m a little surprised that they grace your winter garden. How wonderful! Here in California I have some beauties, but it’s our summer. By autumn my tomatoes won’t be looking too good! 🙂 I know what you mean about coming home and seeing their “smiling faces” waiting to be admired. Loved this post!

    Anna - July 5, 2017 Reply

    Thanks so much Debra, I love that you enjoyed my post. There really is something special about seeing your garden come to life, huh?!
    Good to hear you are enjoying your beautiful garden and making the most of the summer too. Happy gardening. 🙂

Jasline (Foodie Baker) - July 5, 2017 Reply

Ooooh soooo lucky you! How I wish I can have some tomatoes growing just outside my apartment! The caprese salad is best to highlight the sweetness and juiciness of tomatoes. Mmmm I also love them roasted, they are soooo good yum!

    Anna - July 5, 2017 Reply

    I am huh? I feel so grateful when I see my beautiful and thriving garden smiling up at me each day, especially when I am tucking into a tomato straight from the vine. YARM! Roasted tomatoes are so good, have been doing just that with my supply too. Hope you are having all the fun in your neck of the woods Jasline. Hugs from the Whitsundays. 🙂

Mandy - July 4, 2017 Reply

How lovely Anna! I love my garden and potter around in it all the time and LOVE having a herb / veggie patch although it is slightly neglected with all my trips backwards and forwards to Kenya.
Haven’t enjoyed the simplicity of a caprese salad for the longest time – think I shall change that immediately.
Have a glorious day gardener Anna.
🙂 Mandy xoxoxo

    Anna - July 5, 2017 Reply

    Yes, you have been galavanting around the globe a lot lately, good for you. But I am sure your garden will forgive you, its winter anyways in your neck of the woods, too cold to be out in it! Hope you are well my dear friend. Hugs and love from the sunshiny Whitsundays. 🙂

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