Insalata Caprese AKA Caprese Salad
Before you even start to read this post I must teach you one VERY IMPORTANT thing. How to properly pronounce Caprese. For the love of God and all things holy please do not say cah-PREECE. It's like nails on a chalkboard. The correct way to pronounce this word is: ca-preh-zseh . Ok, that was your lesson for the day. :)
One of my favorite things to eat is Caprese Salad (Insalate Caprese). It's super quick and easy to make and it serves as a great quick lunch or a nice Antipasto if your hosting a dinner party. Especially on a hot summer day....Mmmmm. This wonderful dish originates from the island of Capri. (You must go there, it's insanely beautiful). Now, obviously here in the United States we don't have access to some of the fresh produce they have an Italy so us Italian Americans just do the best we can to work with what we've got. First thing, your ingredients are EVERYTHING. They make the world of a difference so if you want the closest thing you could eat in Italy, always stick with "fresh". They don't need to over season things or add a bunch of stuff to everything because the fresh ingredients give you all of the flavor you need. Now again....I'm an Italian AMERICAN soooo.....I still tend to do what most of us Americans do and I add stuff that is not necessary. I'm a continuous work in progress ok? I think buying your ingredients for this dish is much more important than how you assemble it so below I have listed the ingredients and things to look for while shopping for them.
- Vine Ripened Tomatoes - when choosing your tomatoes, you always want them at room temperature. It seals the flavor and the heavier they are, the juicier they are. I also like to smell my tomatoes to help me pick which ones I want.
- Mozzarella - picking the right mozzarella is VERY important. Try to buy the best you can find. Often times the kind that are in vacuum sealed packaging tend to have a rubbery consistency and less flavor. This is okay if you plan on baking or cooking the mozzarella but for a dish like this the flavor and consistency is SO IMPORTANT. Trust me. I usually buy Mozzarella di Bufala because it is so rich and creamy. Once you have had a high quality Mozzarella, you will never want to go back. ***I also like to use Burrata cheese sometimes but that's a whole other post. If you're familiar with cheeses at all, you can use Burrata for this dish as well if you like.
- Basil - you must always use fresh Basil. This is the icing on the cake so to speak. I have found that the smaller leaves tend to be more fragrant and oh my goodness....they smell SO good. I eventually bought my own potted Basil plant that we keep in our kitchen now so I can just pull leaves from that. It makes a world of a difference when cooking.
- Slice your tomates into your desired shape. I like mine to be slice like you would slice an apple.
- Slice your mozzarella into desired size and shape.
- Add Basil leaves
- Drizzle EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) on top
- Season with fresh ground Pepper to taste
- ***American/Sarah Style*** you can also drizzle some Balsamic Vinegar or Balsamic glaze on top for extra flavor (although it's not necessary)
and that's it! Should take 20 minutes to make or less. Buon Appetito! or like Nonni says "Mangia!"