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Caprese Salad: Tasty Memories from the Amalfi Coast in Italy
Taste of Italy
There are few moments of knock-your-socks-off experience that elevate your wonder and sense of taste and aliveness. And odd though it may sound, eating my very first Caprese Salad was one of these.
Imagine having spent a week touring the glories of Italy from Rome to Venice to Florence around to Pisa and down to Naples. You have just taken a drive along the famous and glorious Amalfi coast and now from your restaurant table you are gazing languidly at the Mediterranean Sea. You are in love in several of the ways there are to be in love. You are enjoying the intimacy of your fellow traveler, your sister, and life is good.
The waiter brings a rather ordinary looking dish for each of you, roughly cut greenish red tomatoes, small chunks of soft mozzarella cheese, and little green slivers of leaves which (you figure out) are basil. It is explained to you offhandedly as the waiter passes by that the tomatoes and basil are grown nearby and the mozzarella is from down the road, freshly made.
Ah, Giada...nobody does Italian better!
Deep in conversation, you take a bite. Silence. It is unbelievably delicious, defying beyond reason its not particularly appetizing appearance. Drizzled with olive oil, splashed with balsamic. You never fully recover.
Although that quality is hard to match, a modest attempt is still deliciously attainable.
We had a bumper crop of fine plump red and juicy Beefeater, Brandywine and Early Girl heirloom tomatoes this year, and our basil grew tall and leafy green. We bought the soft ball of mozzarella from our local grocer. We always keep olive oil and good balsamic vinegar on hand. That’s all you need.
So easy.......so delicious.Click thumbnail to view full-size
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- Fresh Basil
- Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
- Ripe Tomatoes
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Select ripe and juicy tomatoes, about one per person. Wash and skin (optional) by submersing in boiling water for about 10 seconds, then quickly removing with a slotted spoon and plunging in an ice water bath. Make a small cut only through the skin to get an edge. It will easily peel right off. Slice and layer on your serving plate.
- Make slices or slivers from the ball of mozzarella cheese with a sharp knife or wire cheese cutter and arrange on the tomato slices.
- Wash desired amount of basil leaves and tear, shred with a knife, or place whole around the tomatoes and cheese.
- Drizzle with a fine olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt (optional) and black pepper (optional).