An easy and very Italian appetizer is a caprese salad. There are only a few ingredients, yet it looks stunning on a plate, smells fantastic and tastes delicious.
- 1 1/2 pounds High Moisture Mozzarella
- 1 1/2 pounds Vine ripened tomatoes (or heirloom if you’re willing to splurge)
- 1/2 bunch Fresh Basil, washed and coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Coarse Salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
- 2-3 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Why did I write high moisture mozzarella you may ask? Because this is the kind of mozzarella that is delicious and oozing with “juice” and adds to the dish. However, if you are shopping for your mozzarella at 7Mile, you might not be able to find it. I was only able to find “Low Moisture” mozzarella – and this works, too (you can actually make your own relatively easily – if you’d like a recipe, send me an email). However, this recipe is all the more delicious with the fun mozzarella “ball” that was freshly made within the last day or so from the time you buy it (any longer and the “high moisture” mozzarella goes bad – hence the reason why most likely you’ll find low moisture – because it keeps longer and the store has more chance to sell it before they have to toss it).
Slice the mozzarella cheese into 1/4 inch slices. Slice the tomatoes into the same size (slice thicker, if you’d like your slices thicker). Plate the mozzarella and tomatoes one after the other in a pattern (mozzarella then tomato, etc). Sprinkle the basil, salt, pepper and the olive oil over the whole plate.
You could add balsamic vinegar if you like (and drizzle about 1-2 teaspoons on the plate). Although Caprese Salad Purists might look down their noses at you,the balsamic vinegar adds another layer of flavor – and color which is great fun. Also, if you are making this an appetizer you could “stack” the mozzarella and tomatoes so that each person gets 4-5 slices on their plate -and stack them straight in the air – it makes for an exciting presentation. If you go for heirloom tomatoes – there are tons of choices – though they are more pricey. There are white, black, orange, pink, striped (among other types) of tomatoes. The United States produces over 7,500 varieties of tomatoes, so take a chance and get a new type of tomato for this salad. Since this salad showcases the tomato, finding a delicious one makes the salad. Whole Foods carries heirloom tomatoes and although they are more expensive – they have a burst of flavor that you may not find in your run of the mill supermarket variety.