Monday, 11 July 2005

Insalata Caprese

Whenever my husband wanted to have a simple uncomplicated healthy light food, the first thing that comes to his mind is this Italian salad. It is quite simply his favourite. And why not? It's one of the very few that he can make without anybody's assistance ;-). Named 'caprese' in honor of the Italian island of Capri where this supposedly originated.

There are only two main ingredients in this one - tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. As for the dressing, some people (like him) like to drizzle just olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it. Others (like me) want something with more flavour like a vinaigrette - any type will do for me. I included a vinaigrette recipe below which I adapted from Delia Smith's The Delia Collection Italian. Make sure to drizzle the olive oil or dressing right before serving because soaking in oil/dressing will just make the tomatoes soggy.

We're having a lot of this lately because of the hot weather and the abundance of tomatoes in season. Beef tomatoes or large vine-ripened tomatoes can be used (though the latter has more flavour, IMO). With the cheese, get the mozzarella that's shaped like a ball and packed with some water. I heartily recommend the mozzarella made from buffalo milk (mozzarella di bufala) due it being more creamy (according to the husband) than the ones made from cow's milk.

Insalata Caprese

fresh ripe tomatoes - sliced 1/4-inch thick
mozzarella cheese - sliced 1/4-inch thick
fresh basil leaves - torn into pieces
salt and pepper (optional)
olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar (optional)

*Vinaigrette Dressing

1 garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped herbs (basil, tarragon, thyme, etc.)
freshly ground pepper
  1. Arrange overlapping layers of tomatoes and mozzarella in a plate.
  2. Scatter the basil leaves on top and crush some salt and pepper on it, if using.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette dressing. Serve immediately.

*For the Vinaigrette Dressing
  1. Mash the garlic and salt with a mortar and pestle. Add the mustard and mash until creamy.
  2. Transfer to a small bowl and add the vinegar, olive oil, and pepper. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add the chopped herbs.
  4. Drizzle on salads just before serving.

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