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Caprese Salad

Insalata Caprese………doesn’t that just sound pretty?  That’s the “real” name for this salad.  It means “salad in the style of Capri.”  It’s a very simple salad from the southern Italian region of Campania.  Traditionally it is made with sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, plum tomatoes, basil and just a little salt, pepper and olive oil.

I first had this salad at Buca di Beppo.  Their salad also included some amazing roasted peppers.  Not long after I tasted it for the first time, my brother tasted it while on vacation in France.  He came home just raving about this fabulous salad. 

So I set out to make it.  Now let me just say that this dish would be SOOOOOOOOOO much better made in the summer with super fresh tomatoes straight off the vine and my own home-grown basil.  But it just happens I tried to turn this into a nice little appetizer for our Christmas Eve festivities.  So this dish wasn’t made with fresh summer ingredients.  It was made with items I got at Whole Foods.  Sometimes you just have to punt.

And, as per my usual, I can never leave “well enough” alone.  I tinkered with the recipe a bit.  So instead of being a southern Italian dish, it turned into Amy’s Southwestern Tennessee Salad.  ha!

Here’s how I made it for an appetizer:

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Instead of using sliced fresh mozzarella and sliced plum tomatoes, I used miniature fresh mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes.  I also use balsamic vinegar in my Caprese Salad.  I just LOVE the flavor of balsamic vinegar!  Now y’all excuse the fact that I made this photo on top of a Christmas present! 

caprese-2

I lined the mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes up in the dish in a checkerboard pattern.  I thought this would make a really pretty presentation since I was making it for Christmas eve.  But this would also make a pretty presentation for Valentine’s Day!  Or because it’s Tuesday…….

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Next I sprinkled it all with fresh-cracked pepper.  If you NEVER, EVER listen to me about using fresh-cracked pepper, PLEASE listen to me this time!  I promise you that it makes all the difference in the world! 

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Then I sprinkled the fresh basil over it all.  I apologize for not demonstrating how to make a basil chiffonade.  Simply put, you stack each basil leaf on top of the next, then roll them up jellyroll-style.  Once they’re rolled up, make thin slices off the end until you’ve got beautiful little ribbons of basil.  Be generous with the basil!  Fresh basil is unbelievably aromatic!

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I mixed equal amounts of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil together.  This was approximately 1/4 cup of each.  You don’t want to drown the salad, just give it a nice coating of the dressing.

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Pour the dressing over the salad.

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And this is what you end up with. 

It is so simple!  And according to the Tall Skinny Man and Unk, it’s delicious! 

This would make a maginificent accompaniment to grilled chicken or steak.  It’s good alongside fettucini alfredo.  Or it’s good as a little appetizer before the big meal. 

My family really enjoys this!  I hope you do too!  And for all the real Italians out there, please don’t hate me for tinkering with your recipe by adding the balsamic vinegar!  We just all happen to really LOVE balsamic vinegar!  And for all you non-Italians out there who don’t love balsamic vinegar like we do, feel free to omit that part.  But just make sure you use a really high-quality olive oil because this salad will only be as good as the quality of your ingredients!

Have a great day!  It’s yucky, rainy and cold here in my part of the world today!  Hopefully a new recipe will bring a little sunshine!

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4 Responses

  1. My Individual Mozzerella Caprese on the cache is nearly the same, only I put it on small skewers or toothpicks and serve a sweetened balsamic reduction as a dipping sauce.

    A little juliienne prosciutto woven between the tomatoes and mozzerella is a nice twist as well!

    I love this salad nearly any style though, and yours looks awesome!

  2. Amy, I am sitting here, drooling on my keyboard! Oh my! This looks wonderful! One question…where did you find the mozzerella balls? Maybe when you worked, outside of your hometown? Or, did you actually find them in your town?

  3. I got them at Whole Foods. But I think Sam’s might carry them too. I didn’t actually look anywhere here in my town because I was on a Whole Foods pilgrimmage with my Phat Babysitter/Jewelry Lady/Cake Whore right before Christmas. LOL So I’m honestly not sure if Kroger has them or not. I know Kroger actually has REAL mozzarella in large balls now. I was pretty thrilled about that!

  4. Amy,
    You know you are so amazing. Not only is she an excellent cook, she is an amazing DCS employee. I have tired all dishes that she brings to work for different occasions and I can truly say that she needs to move to Memphis and open up her own business. These receipes look good and you know that I am going to die trying to cook them all. I haven’t had the opportunity to view all of them but do you have any diet recipes on here.

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