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With food there is often a beauty in simplicity. One of my personal favorites is Italian Classic Caprese Salad. This simple salad is as much a celebration of pure and simple ingredients as it is of Italy itself.
What is Caprese Salad?
Caprese Salad is a salad made of tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and olive oil. The salad is seasoned with salt, pepper, and in many cases, balsamic vinegar is added. The colors in the salad are red, green, and white, which are representative of the Italian “Tricolore” flag.
Our Approach to Insalata Caprese
Whenever you are working with so few ingredients, the quality of those ingredients becomes highlighted. This is even more so when you are preparing food raw – the need for top quality ingredients become paramount.
While I am normally okay with buying generic ingredients for dishes, when it comes to something like this caprese salad, I prefer to splurge a bit to ensure my ingredients are higher quality.
For this salad, we’re going to be using heirloom tomatoes, which are famous for their sweet flavor. We will also be using fresh basil, premium cold pressed olive oil, sea salt, aged balsamic for flavor, and fresh whole mozzarella for richness.
The most common flavor additions I can think of for a Caprese are herbs and greens. The addition of fresh savory oregano or spicy arugula immediately come to mind to help elevate the flavors of the salad. Another popular variation is to use burrata or buffalo mozzarella for the cheese.
Pairing Ideas for Caprese
Caprese is most traditionally served as an antipasto (starter dish) rather than a contorno (side dish). Because of this, you should pair it with other starters rather than main dishes. Cured meats, cheeses, nuts, and breads are common antipasto faire. Even light fish dishes can be considered antipasto, including cured anchovies for the more culinary daring.
Similar to other tomato starter dishes we have made, such as our tomato and basil bruschetta, you won’t need many tools to prepare it. All you will need is a good knife (very important for tomatoes), a cutting board, and a bowl or plate to serve the salad on.
- 3 medium heirloom tomatoes
- 1 bunch basil
- 8 ounces whole fresh mozzarella
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic to taste
- Wash and dry vegetables
- Slice tomatoes
- Chiffonade the basil
- Slice mozzarella
- Place the tomatoes and mozzarella together by lining them up and alternating each ingredient (tomato, mozzarella, repeat)
- Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic
- Add a pinch of salt
- Garnish with basil