While we are on the topic of Italy and our food adventures in that delicious land, I thought I would share with you one of our favorite Italian treats….Caprese Salad! It is so easy to whip up, vibrant and yet, so tasty!
A little history lesson first. The Caprese Salad, or Inslata Caprese as you’ll find it on the menus in Italy, originated in the 1950s in the Isle of Capri (the Campania region of Italy). Traditionally, Insalata Caprese is made up of cow’s milk mozzarella, tomatoes, and olive oil garnished with oregano and arugula. Here in the States however, we might substitute buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, and we almost always add a drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar – of which, I am a huge fan! Even in Italy, we would request that our server bring us a bottle of “Aceto Balsamico” to drizzle over our salads. If it wasn’t obvious already…we were Americans! Here are some of the salads we enjoyed over there…
And now….our version of the Italian favorite:
- 2 – 3 “On-the-vine” tomatoes, sliced ~1/2 inch thick
- Fresh Mozzarella, sliced ~1/4 of an inch thick
- Fresh Basil leaves torn, medium leaves in half, larger leaves in thirds
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Sea Salt/Pepper to taste
- Salad greens (Spring Mix or Arugula) – Optional
If you are looking for a more filling “salad” with your meal, start by laying salad greens in a thin layer covering the bottom of your serving platter. If you are looking for a lighter appetizer, skip the extra greens!
Next, slice tomatoes and mozzarella. Layer mozzarella on top of tomatoes. (One slice of cheese for every tomato slice). Lightly salt and pepper to taste. Tear basil leaves and top each of the tomato/mozzarella slices. Gently drizzle EVOO over the plate. Follow with Balsamic Vinegar.
Keep in mind that this salad is really composed of just 3 main ingredients (tomato, basil, and mozzarella) so it is important to choose quality/fresh ingredients. In the summer, I try to grow my own tomatoes and basil (I just planted them last weekend!) but otherwise buy sweet “on-the-vine” tomatoes at HyVee or fresh from the farmers market. And to my husband’s dismay, I always splurge on fresh basil in the winter…no dried bail for this salad! As for the fresh mozzarella, this is usually located near the deli and/or specialty cheese section of your grocer. Feel free to substitue Buffalo Mozzarella for stronger flavor. Finally, extra virgin olive oil is the best choice for this salad because it is more flavorful than other olive oils.
Mmmmm….Fresh, flavorful, mouth-watering deliciousness! We love it! Thank you Italy!
And with that, I leave you until next week. Tomorrow I am headed to Nashville for my first half marathon. Rock N Roll Music City Marathon…here I come! Say a prayer…if I didn’t need it already, they are now forecasting thunderstorms. Yikes! :)
Indulge. In Life. In Love. In Food.