Monday, May 7, 2012

Insalata Caprese

Also known as tomato of my favorite things about being Italian is being able to claim this salad.  My French fiance is constantly asking for it but alas, tomatoes have not been in season.  I did spy with my little eye some ripe, red tomatoes at Shoppers over the weekend (of all places!), so I jumped at the chance to bring summer to my dinner table.  We served this as an appetizer for some grilled chicken and was so refreshing!

Is there anything more perfect than this (measurements are according to your taste; there is no right or wrong way to do this but don't overdo it on the cheese or it becomes unhealthy very quickly!):

- A few slices of tomato (be generous here, tomatoes are good for you and very healthy!)
- 2-3 very thin slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (here's where we all go overboard...sigh)
- Chopped fresh basil (only use fresh and grow it yourself if you me on this one)
- A very light drizzle of olive oil
- A very light drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar
- Freshly cracked salt and pepper

- Slice tomatoes and mozzarella
- Chop or julienne fresh basil leaves (or leave whole, if you prefer)
- Alternate tomato, basil and mozzarella; drizzle with balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper

This one was my plate- I didn't want to overpower the freshness of the tomatoes and basil by using olive oil and vinegar but everyone else dug right in!

I dare you to find someone who doesn't like this at a dinner party.

An awesome and lower-maintenance variation on this is to use tiny mozzarella balls or even cubed mozzarella with grape tomatoes.  It can be mixed in advance with olive oil, vinegar and basil for a delicious salad to bring to cookouts!

*Side note: I buy basil plants and keep them in my kitchen for whenever I'm dreaming of Italian food...which is several times per week.  Try it at home- all you have to do is water it a few times per week 

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