Caprese Salad, or Insalata Caprese in Italian, is a summer salad made with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. It is the perfect salad in summertime, with freshly harvested homegrown basil and tomatoes.
The recipe is from the island of Capri. It was invented in the 1950s at the Trattoria da Vincenzo. Regulars would order a just-picked tomato and some fresh fior di latte, or cow's-milk mozzarella.
Traditionally, the dressing for Caprese salad was just a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Vinegar was believed to destroy the delicate flavor of the cheese and was never used. That said, you will find Caprese salads dressed with olive oil and Balsmaic vinegar in many American restaurants. I think it’s good both ways. If you’re a purist, just use olive oil.
It is essential to use the very best ingredients. Flavorless grocery store tomatoes and rubbery processed mozzarella are unacceptable. Use fresh basil and tomatoes and the best quality mozzarella you can find.
Ideally, use homegrown tomatoes and basil from your garden. It's so fun to just head outdoors, gather some fresh produce and make a salad.
Tomatoes, ideally heirloom and/or homegrown, organic, large (4 or 2 lbs)
Mozzarella, fresh, ideally from grass-fed cows (1 lb)
Basil, fresh, ideally organic (1/4 cup packed)
Olive oil, extra-virgin, organic (3-4 TBS)
Black pepper, freshly ground — where to buy ground pepper
1. Slice tomatoes into 1/2-inch slices.
2. Slice mozzarella into 1/2-inch slices.
3. On a large platter, arrange tomato, mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating them.
4. Drizzle with the olive oil.
5. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Photo credit: Insalata Caprese by FotoosVanRobin on Flickr