October 25, 2010

CAPRESE SALAD


Every time I go to Italy I must eat a big plate of Insalada Caprese.  It is, of course, never the same eating it here in America but it is something that I make often just to satisfy those cravings for the tastes of Italy.  This Salad has just a few simple ingredients so they must be the best tasting to make this Salad amazing.  To make this Salad you must use a very good fresh Mozzarella.  The kind that is stored in a liquid brine.  The best place to find fresh Mozzarella is a good Cheese shop or even better, an Italian deli that makes their own fresh Mozzarella.  Traditional Mozzarella is made from buffalo's Milk but cow's Milk Mozzarella is more common in America.  Some markets have well supplied Cheese departments with a knowledgeable Cheese monger (Whole Foods is one) that carry fresh Mozzarella.  In Italy it is second nature to prepare this Salad using only the freshest juicy red Tomatoes just picked from the garden with snips of sun kissed Basil that smell of grassy Anise.   I serve it over fresh Greens and with Olives and Red Peppers which is not traditional but delicious.  It tastes best served at room temperature (the Mozzarella can be cold but the Tomatoes and Basil should be room temperature.)  When you eat this Salad you may not be sitting at a seaside cafe on the island of Capri but when you prepare this Salad and enjoy what simple fresh flavors can create you are Cooking The Amazing.




Here is the recipe.



1  lb.   Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced  
4  Tomatoes, large, sliced thick 
20  Basil Leaves, fresh
1/4  c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4  t  Sea Salt, fine grain
1/2  t  Black Pepper, fresh ground




1.  Drain the Mozzarella and slice into 1/4" or so slices.  Look for the large sized balls of Mozzarella when you purchase it.  "Ovoline" is a large egg size that works well.  There are usually 3-4 Ovolines per lb.

2.  Slice the Tomatoes into similar size 1/4 " slices.

3.  Layer the Mozzarella with whole Basil leaves and Tomato slices on a platter and season with the Sea Salt and Black Pepper then drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  You may not use all of the Olive Oil.

4.  Taste for seasoning and add more Sea Salt and Black Pepper or Olive Oil to suit your taste and serve at room temperature.


Here is the real thing from the last time I was in Italy from Trattoria in Rome where the Mozzarella is made by hand and the Tomatoes were amazing and sweet from Sicily.



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