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Caprese Salad – The Best Way to Start the Summer June 5, 2013

Posted by Bravado Cooking for Men in Classic Italian Dishes, Classic Salads.
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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.

 Nobody knows from where came the water buffalo in southern Italy.  Some say from Mesopotamia at the dawn of civilization.  They only thing we know is that they have been there for over a thousand years, they constitute the dairy herds of region and they make Italy the world’s largest producer of buffalo mozzarella.

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This cheese is vastly superior to cow’s milk mozzarella and there is a reason.  Buffalo milk has 7.5% milkfat, while whole cow’s milk has only 3.25%.  It takes 5 gallons of buffalo milk to make a pound of cheese while it takes 8 gallons of cow’s milk.  Buffalo mozzarella is an incredibly creamy fresh cheese that, once tried, makes you wonder why they don’t require this ingredient in a Caprese salad.

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

Servings: 2

Ingredients

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  • 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

Procedure:

  1. Slice the mozzarella as thinly as possible.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into normal slices
  3. Arrange alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella on the serving plate or on individual salad plates.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Tear the basil leaves into about four or five pieces and sprinkle on top of the salad.
  6. 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.

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Comments»

1. Peri's Spice Ladle - June 6, 2013

Completely agree with you, no better way to start summer entertaining than with a simple and delicious caprese salad…and buffalo mozzarella is a must, it used to be available at Costco too, not sure if they still keep it:)

Bravado Cooking for Men - June 6, 2013

I have not seen buffalo mozzarella in Costco. Would that they would have it. However, the Trader Joe’s product is very good and not that expensive.


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