Recently I conducted a small poll on the Italian Chef Facebook page asking what kind of summer recipes people wanted to see more of here. No cook recipes like salads and cold antipasti narrowly beat out Italian grilling recipes. So, over the next couple of weeks I am going to feature some of my best salads and such, starting here with my own personal favorite summer dish, Caprese Salad.
This salad is simplicity at it’s best: tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil and basil. It is very important that all of the ingredients be the best quality you can find. Tomatoes and basil fresh from your own garden or the local farmer’s market, your finest extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh mozzarrella from a source you trust.
In Campania, Insalata Caprese is made with local fresh buffalo mozzarella, one of the culinary delights of the region. Here in America, buffalo mozzarella is very hard to find so we substitute good quality cow’s milk mozzarella, called fior di latte in Italy. Even if you can find imported Mozzarella di Bufala in a specialty store, you are better off with good fresh cow’s milk mozzarella from a deli or cheese maker you trust, because buffalo mozzarella is best eaten as soon after it is made as possible and does not travel well.
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced ¼ inch thick
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 to 8 fresh basil leaves
- salt to taste
- Arrange tomato slices on a platter.
- Top each tomato with a slice of mozzarella. Season with salt to taste.
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the mozzarella and tomato. Tear the basil leaves into pieces by hand or chiffonade cut, scatter on top and serve.