Monday, June 20, 2011

Insalata Caprese

One of the easiest, most delicious summer foods is the Caprese Salad. With only seven potential ingredients (including salt and pepper), this is a well-known recipe that can be an appetizer, a side-dish, or a snack. The reason I'm posting about this is because with the right information, this salad can be perfect. However; some easy-to-make mistakes can ruin the whole thing! First I'll give the recipe, and then I'll bullet all the things that can go wrong.
  • 10-12 large Basil leaves
  • 12 oz. Buffalo Mozzarella
  • About 24 small, round tomatoes
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (about 1 part vinegar to 3 parts olive oil)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground Black Pepper
  • Grated Parmesan (optional)
Slice 12 oz. mozzarella into about 12 slices, and spread them out on a serving platter. Next, cut the tomatoes in half, and put as many halved tomatoes as you can on each slice of cheese, cut side down. It will probably be around four per slice.
On a separate plate, cut the basil into ¼ to ½ inch ribbons, and sprinkle them over the platter.
Approximately five minutes before serving, drizzle the vinaigrette over the entire plate, using as much as you like.

What can go wrong?
·        First off, the tomatoes. For this recipe, I prefer to use small tomatoes rather than a slice out of a big tomato because it helps me pace myself. I figure: ‘If I can only eat one half tomato at a time, then I will have to take three or four bites, rather than say; two. Also, with smaller slices of tomato, you don’t need a knife; you can just cut with the side of you fork.
·        The cheese is a delicate one, so it can be over-powered by too much vinaigrette.
·        Basil is a powerful herb when it’s fresh, so too much of it also tends to overpower the delicate flavors of the dish.
·        The vinaigrette ratio is very important. Actually; in the picture shown I had tried to marinate the cheese in just the vinegar so there would be more flavor from the vinegar. Unfortunately, this only dried the cheese out, so make sure you have enough olive oil.
·        Adding too much salt can be a very easy thing to do when using cheese, as you don’t always know how much salt is in there already! For this recipe (and especially if you are using any parmesan), bring the salt shaker to the table and allow the eaters to judge how many of the little crystals they want. That way, it’s not your fault if it’s too salty!

Bon Appétit!

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