This dish is a great example of how cuisine changes as we become aware and intrigued by other cultures. It’s about ‘authenticity’, in a way that most people don’t talk about. I mean, what is more ‘authentic’ than learning and evolving?
Caprese salad is one of those things I take for granted. I think of this the way some people think of an iceberg salad – simple, fresh and super quick to make. I almost didn’t want to post this, because I figure everyone already makes Caprese salad. This post is for the folks who have never tried this delicious salad, or had it at a restaurant once and thought it must be more complicated than it looks (it isn’t).
The basic recipe contains very few ingredients: tomatoes; bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella; fresh basil and is dressed with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and sometimes (but not always) balsamic vinegar. This is a perfect salad for the summer, and a great break from leafy greens.
The star of the Caprese salad is the tomato. You really need to have the freshest, tastiest tomatoes that have no mealiness to them (so, really, beefsteak tomatoes are kind of out). I like to use Campari tomatoes (like the ones shown below), romas, cherry or grape tomatoes from the local farmers’ market… but my favourite new thing is to use tomatoes out of my own garden. This is the first time I’ve grown tomatoes, and I giggle every time I pick a tomato off of my plant. Nice.
There are many variations on this salad, but this follows the most basic set of steps. One really important thing to remember is that the slices of tomato should be a similar shape and size to that of the cheese. This can result in a salad made up of layered rows of ingredients, or a toss of chopped ingredients. It’s really up to you. I generally like the layered look. I really like the look of big slices of tomato layered with big slices of cheese — but that can be harder to eat, so I usually get the smaller balls of bocconcini to pair with cherry or grape tomatoes.
Recipe after the jump!