Caprese Salad

>> Sunday, September 4, 2011

I made this salad for Joe one summer evening as part of  a birthday picnic. Since then, we've enjoyed the same salad at the courtyard restaurant at the Art Institute of Chicago, where they used several colorful varieties of heritage tomatoes. We also had this salad during our honeymoon in Tuscany, where the dish originated. In Tuscany, they often use buffalo mozzarella instead, which gives it a subtle musky taste.

When the tomatoes come on heavy in summer, and even the neighbors won't take any more, this salad is a wonderful way to use up your produce. If you grow an herbal garden, like we do, you can pick your fresh tomatoes and fresh basil at the same time. If you're buying tomatoes, make sure they are excruiciatingly ripe so that the flavors pop. One of the best features of authentic Italian cooking is that they insist on buying the freshest, best produce at the beginning of the recipe.


1/2 pound fresh soft mozzarella cheese, sliced as thinly as possible
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced
3-4 large fresh basil leaves, torn into large pieces
Freshly ground salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, if desired


On a large serving plate, alternate mozzarella, tomato, and basil in a circular pattern, overlapping the slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, drizzle with oil and vinegar.
Makes 4 side salads. 


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