Ripe sun-kissed tomatoes, vibrant aromatic basil, pristine white mozzarella: the holy trinity of Italian cuisine. These seasonal ingredients are best associated with summertime and are all that is needed for an Insalata Caprese, or Tomato Mozzarella Salad. The ubiquitous salad from the island of Capri makes use of the simplest, freshest ingredients of the summer season, underscoring what best defines Italian cooking.
To prepare an Insalata Caprese or Tomato Mozzarella Salad:
Simply slice ripe, unrefrigerated tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella and layer them with fresh basil leaves on a platter. Drizzle with high quality extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
This trio of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil can easily be applied to other delicious dishes. Equally simple, all that is necessary is a little rearrangement and garnish. Add to Crostini for an appetizer or toss with Farfalle and grated Pecorino Romano for an easy pasta salad.
Crostini Caprese – Crostini with Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella
Makes 12 crostini
12 slices baguette, cut on the diagonal
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
12 slices ripe, unrefrigerated tomatoes
12 slices buffalo mozzarella
12 large basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
6 pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
Arugula sprouts or fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
Brush baguette slices with olive oil. Rub with garlic cloves. Arrange on baking sheet and grill in oven until lightly toasted, turning once. Remove.
Arrange basil leaf on each crostini. Top with tomato slice and mozzarella slice. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Drizzle lightly with additional olive oil.
Garnish with kalamata olive half and top with arugula sprouts or Basil Chiffonade.
To make Basil Chiffonade:
Stack 3-4 large basil leaves. Roll up the stack starting from long side of the leaves. Finely slice roll, horizontally across leaf to create fine ribbons.