Every weekend, I’d like to focus on what we all seem to agree is the heart of the home: the kitchen. Everyone in every home seems to gravitate toward the sweet and savory aromas and tastes which distinguish this special area of the home from any other. The kitchen is a warm and welcoming hub within the home. And when we gather there, such a wonderful diversity of recipes abound.
After noshing @TonySaccosIndy all week, on their fabulous coal oven pizza, my thoughts remain in Italy this weekend as I consider what I might recommend preparing at home.
I’d like to share with you an Italian classic, Insalata Caprese, otherwise known as Caprese Salad. Simple yet elegant, this is a light summery dish, perfect for both family and entertaining friends. The following recipe is one I love.
3 fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, 1/4” thick slices, seeds removed
1 lb. fresh mozzarella, 1/4″ thick slices
25 (approx.) fresh basil leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
On a lovely serving plate or platter, layer alternating slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese. Slip a clean, dry basil leaf between each layer.Drizzle salad with extra-virgin olive oil. Season with course salt and ground pepper to taste. Serves 4-6.
Using the freshest, highest quality ingredients is key to the success of this dish, because there are so few components. Since it’s summer, homegrown tomatoes and fresh basil are abundant. (I encourage you to seek delicious fresh produce @CarmelFarmMkt.) I also recommend using coarse, gourmet Kosher Salt. Excellent quality extra virgin olive oil is non-negotiable! And find the freshest mozzarella possible. Makes a world of difference.
Caprese Salad is perfecto as a prelude to pasta.
Also excellent served with a signature Italian bread, such as a crusty garlic bread, foccacia or ciabatta.
Twists to the recipe include the addition of thinly shaved red onion, and/or a drizzle of excellent balsamic vinegar.