Sometimes I look at people on the street and think that each one has a story – someone loves them and they love somebody – some have had great happiness or great sadness. I find myself wanting to know their stories. The same thing happens to me with recipes, especially with the classic dishes. I want to know their story.
Caprese salad is a good example. To understand this dish that appears on the majority of menus in Italian restaurants, we need to think of ourselves floating over southern Italy, a good three hours by car south of Rome. Think of sunshine, warmth, field after field of ripe tomatoes and – wait a minute – water buffalo. Where did these guys come from – they are everywhere? We pass over Naples heading south and come to Sorrento (sounds like a song title). And, right off the Sorrento peninsula we see the famous Isle of Capri, where our salad was supposedly invented.
I suppose there is no specific reason that the dish was named after the Isle of Capri, but there is a definite reason that it would logically originate in the Compania region. The two most important products of the area are buffalo mozzarella cheese and plum tomatoes. In both cases, you can’t find better examples of these ingredients anywhere in the world.
Buffalo mozzarella can be hard to find and is often very expensive. However, Trader Joe’s now carries 7 oz. balls of this glorious stuff for about $5.00. This is a perfect amount for two salads.
Level of Difficulty: 2.0 out of 10
Time Required: 15 minutes
- 2 ea. ripe tomatoes
- 1 ea. 7oz. ball of buffalo mozzarella
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Good quality balsamic vinegar
- Handful of basil leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Slice the mozzarella as thinly as possible.
- Cut the tomatoes into normal slices
- Arrange alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella on the serving plate or on individual salad plates.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Tear the basil leaves into about four or five pieces and sprinkle on top of the salad.
- When ready to serve AND NOT BEFORE, add a few dashes of balsamic vinegar and about two tablespoons of olive oil.
Summertime is a great time to make this dish. Make sure you get the right ingredients, add a bottle of chardonnay or sauvignon blanc to the agenda, and make lunch for that special person in your life. You will set the stage for a wonderful afternoon.