24 May 2014

Insalata Caprese

I'm aware that I've been away from the blog for far too long, and for that, I apologize. I have a few posts lined up now, though, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for some new recipes!

The classic Insalata Caprese (literally "Salad of Capri," Capri being an island just off the coast of Naples in Italy) is simple to make but, as long as you use good ingredients, tastes far better than the sum of its parts. Make this when the tomatoes are fresh and use a really good mozzarella cheese and you're in for a real treat.

The star of the dish is most definitely the tomato. I used simple "on the vine" tomatoes, but you can use Roma/plum tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, or even small cocktail tomatoes for the salad. The latter two are sweeter than the standard supermarket tomato, so you may need to add a little extra salt to balance the dish.

Traditionally, a Caprese salad contains tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and salt. I like to add a good aged balsamic vinegar, some red onion, and some freshly cracked ground pepper to the dish. While the salad is traditionally served as a starter, we had it as a main course the other day, accompanied by garlic bread and oven roasted potatoes. Simple and wonderful.

Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad)

1 lb ripe tomatoes
10 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 red onion
1 bunch fresh basil
extra virgin olive oil
aged balsamic vinegar
black pepper

1. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices.
2. Cut the cheese into bite-sized pieces.
3. Pick the basil leaves off the stem.
4. Finely slice the red onion.
5. Arrange the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil on plates and sprinkle the red onion on top.
6. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. Lightly sprinkle with the olive oil and vinegar.

Serve immediately with some good bread. I would recommend something Italian, like ciabatta!

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