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Caprese Salad

November 30, 2008

I’ve never been a huge fan of salads.  There was just something about eating an entire plate of uncooked greens that came off as unappetizing to me.  Furthermore, cheese has never been my thing unless it’s melted on a pizza or bubbling in some macaroni and cheese.  I suppose it’s some strange aversion I have to eating raw things that aren’t meat as I love sushi and medium steaks.  I’ve also never been a fan of olive oil, using it mainly to cook rather than eating straight out of the bottle.  So there seems to be little hope in me enjoying any aspect of a caprese salad.

But then this past summer I had one for the first time and while it was just okay that first time, I found myself craving it again and again several months later.  I don’t know what it was that just clicked for my taste buds but now caprese salads are one of the things I look forward to eating.  I think it probably has something to do with the simplicity of the entire dish.  The simple preparation, the simple ingredients, the simple flavors all contribute to a clean and fresh taste that’s just complex enough to keep your taste buds wanting more.

The caprese salad is a wonderfully simple dish, focusing more on the quality of ingredients than on the length of preparation.  The silky texture of the mozzarella and the tangy sweetness of the vine-ripe tomatoes are complemented nicely by the olive oil and basil.  Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and the flavors melded are compounded into a bite that’s bursting of summer days and cool, sunny breezes.

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Insalata Caprese Salad

Ingredients

1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
A bunch of Basil leaves (about 15 or so leaves)
Extra-virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

1.  Slice ball of fresh mozzarella into wheels, about 1/4-inch thick.

2.  Slice tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices.

3.  Finely chop or julienne basil leaves.

4.  Layer alternating slices of the mozzarella and tomato, sprinkle with chopped basil leaves and drizzle liberally with extra-virgin olive oil.

5.  Season with salt & pepper, serve slightly chilled.

Notes

I know chilling the tomatoes may slightly reduce its taste but I enjoy this salad slightly chilled as I feel it cuts back on the oiliness of the dish.  You can also place the mozzarella wheels on top of the tomato slices and then on top of that a whole basil leaf, but I feel like layering alternate slices of the cheese and tomato distributes the olive oil better (and thus the flavor) and chopping the basil leaf releases more of its fragrance into the salad.

If tomatoes are not in season, I’ve read that roasting the tomato slices in the oven will liven up the flavors again, even though it may mean changing the dish a little bit.  Using several different types of tomatoes also gives the dish another depth of subtle flavors.  You can also do cherry tomatoes with little balls of mozzarella, too.  Serve along side some bread, like focaccia, for mopping up the extra olive oil is an excellent way to use up those extra drizzles of olive oil that didn’t make it onto your fork!

A very simple and delicious salad, hard to mess up no matter what you do!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Giacomo permalink
    December 1, 2008 12:27 AM

    I am a lover of all things Capri, insalata caprese being comfort food to me. Because of this I would like to thank you for your great post.

    à propos – bellissimo questo blog tuo

  2. December 1, 2008 9:09 AM

    I make mini caprese salads and it is always a winner!!! I love the color of your picture!

  3. December 1, 2008 1:15 PM

    Nice photo. We love our Caprese salad in our family. Another thing you might try to cut the oiliness is a little drizzle of a good quality balsamic vinegar. We find that that little extra touch of zesty/sweet flavor can really help to balance the Olive Oil. Cheers!

  4. Sarah permalink
    December 23, 2008 10:23 PM

    Why, this photograph reminds me of my childhood days in Italy! The luscious red tomatoes, fresh white cheese, and earthy green basil bring back such wonderful memories. I beg of you, post more pictures of Italian food!

  5. Frank permalink
    March 18, 2009 4:29 PM

    We grow our own tomatoes and basil. We make fresh pesto, with balsamic added, and drizzle this over the top instead of olive oil. Add some aged mozzarella for more flavor and a bit of sun dried tomatoes (Italian or Turkish) on top and the caprese really zings.

    A large plate of caprese and a bottle of Pinot Noir on the patio is a perfect summer dinner for this carnivore.

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  1. Caprese Salad « Tastefully Done | dairyfactory.com

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