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Caprese Salad, Insalata Caprese 

Caprese Salad, Insalata Caprese 

One of the best uses for fresh tomatoes has to be a Caprese Salad, also known as Insalata Caprese or Salad of Capri.

This Italian salad highlights three beautiful flavors – garden ripe tomatoes, peppery basil, and slices of milky mozzarella cheese.

These simple ingredients come together quickly and create a dish that can be served as a side salad, an appetizer or add a glass of robust Chianti, for a light yet elegant meal. The classic version of Caprese Salad is topped only with olive oil, salt and pepper. By adding a rich, aged sweet Balsamic vinegar the flavors take on another level.

Don’t skimp on the olive oil or the balsamic vinegar. For olive oil, I keep Olio Santo® and Williams-Sonoma® House Olive Oil on hand, both have a delicate, buttery flavor. One of my favorite balsamic vinegars, and always in my pantry is Guisti Dense®. It is rich and thick with a slightly sweet, fruity flavor and provides a perfect balance for this trio of tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

Traditionally Caprese Salad is served layered on a platter, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Use cherry tomatoes with Bocconcini or Ciliegine, small, bite-size mozzarella balls, placing them on skewers with basil leaves tucked in between each. One of my favorite presentations of a Caprese Salad – stacked in a tower, making an elegant presentation. Both methods are simple and wonderful!

Caprese Tower

Serves 4 – 6

4 large, ripe fresh tomatoes

2 rounds mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil leaves, about 30-40 leaves

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste

Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella cheese into 1/4” slices. Starting with the tomatoes, sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper, top with 2-3 basil leaves, then add a slice of mozzarella. Repeat another layer, finishing by topping with a slice of tomato and basil.

Season each tomato slice with a sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar before serving.

Caprese Skewers

Makes 8 – 10 skewers

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, or a mix of the two

1 large container Bocconcini or Ciliegine mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil leaves, about 40 leaves

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste

6” – 8” wooden skewers

Starting with the tomatoes, place one on a skewer, topped by a basil leaf, then a mozzarella ball, another basil leaf, repeating until you have three tomatoes per skewer.

Place finished skewers on a platter or cheese board, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and if desired, balsamic vinegar.


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