Insalata caprese (ka-PREE-zee) is Italian for “Salad of Capri.” I love the simplicity of this salad. Many people like to serve with balsamic, or balsamic glaze, but I feel that it overwhelms the rest of the ingredients.
Feel free to shake it up. Skip the basil dressing and go straight for the extra-virgin olive oil, or drizzle the basil dressing on the serving platter before assembling the salad on top. Want a little more visual impact? Use a variety of tomato shapes and colors. It all works!
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
|3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 ounce flat-leaf parsley
1/2 ounce sweet basil
1/2 ounce Italian oregano
Up to 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Up to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
|For herb dressing: In an electric blender or food processor, pulse all together to chop up herbs (20-30 seconds). Measure out 2-3 tablespoons into a decorative container. With a flexible silicone spatula, scrape the remainder into a 1-cup canning jar, cap tightly and refrigerate for another use, such as a pasta sauce.||Parsley adds fresh, grassy notes, basil adds a peppery, minty flavor, while oregano adds a pungent bite. It is difficult to make this in a smaller quantity.|
|1/2 cup balsamic vinegar||For balsamic glaze: In a 1-quart tri-ply saucepan bring to a simmer over medium heat. Swirl pan every minute, or so, until reduced to a thick glaze that coats the pan base when tilted (6-8 minutes). Cool 5 minutes, and then load a plastic squeeze bottle. Drizzle 1 tablespoon in a decorative zigzag down an oblong serving platter. Refrigerate the remainder for another use, such as over vanilla ice cream.||A wide pot promotes rapid evaporation. If balsamic is drizzled over the salad, it quickly becomes unsightly as it spreads and soaks into the mozzarella. It is difficult to make this in a smaller quantity.|
|4 thick slices from the center of an 8 ounce Mozzarella ball
4 thick slices from the center of a large vine-ripened beefsteak-style tomato
1 black cherry tomato, quartered
10-12 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
|Alternate mozzarella and tomato slices down the oblong serving platter. Tuck a basil leaf behind each slice, alternating right and left as you go. Tuck in quartered cherry tomatoes around the edges and drizzle with olive oil. Serve dressing on the side in a decorative container. Alternatively, serve dressing in a drizzle over the salad.||Adding a second variety of tomato adds interest to the salad without being fussy. Black cherry tomatoes are deep in color, approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and are commonly available.|
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