three is a magic number…

Tomato, mozzarella, and basil.

All three are good on their own. Combined, they are extraordinary.

As you probably have gathered, I like all three—in pizzas, pastas, or salads. One of the simplest ways to enjoy them is in a Caprese salad.

Also called “insalata Caprese”, it is elevated with the addition of olive oil. Seasoned with salt and pepper and you get yourself a classic. It is said the colors of the salad—red, white, and green, represent the colors of the Italian flag.

The salad is often served in a large plate, with alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella. Torn basil is sprinkled all over and the entire dish is drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Often presented as the salad course, it is a pretty substantial part of the meal. For this reason, I like to serve it as both the appetizer and. salad.

To make it the traditional way, you will need San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala (mozzarella made from buffalo milk), and fresh—not dried, basil. Since I like doing things my way, I put my own little spin to this.

Instead of serving the salad in a large communal platter, I actually serve this individually. I tweak it a little bit more by making a vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar and garlic.

When I can, I love using heirloom tomatoes because they add visual appeal and each variety has a distinct taste, texture, and flavor. Two of my favorites are Brandywine and Kentucky Yellow.

On a plate with a thin layer of vinaigrette, I would alternately stack the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. To finish it off, I drizzle more vinaigrette on top and add fresh cracked black pepper. Serve with a crusty French or sourdough bread to sop up the vinaigrette.

It really doesn’t get any better (or tastier) than this…

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