Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Insalata Caprese - tomato and mozzarella salad

Now, I know that you probably don't actually need a recipe for this salad but I include it more as a reminder really. It is an all-time favourite of mine, simple and yet utterly delicious, perfect for lunch at this time of year. It requires almost nothing of you in the way of preparation, ready to eat in less than 3 minutes, but in such a simple dish the quality of the ingredients is paramount. The basil has to be as fresh as possible and the tomatoes must be ripe and full of flavour (don't even think about making this in winter!). Make sure that they haven't just come out of the fridge either, the cold diminishes their flavour. Olive oil is used alone here so make sure it's the best - this is the time to use your single estate, cold pressed, unfiltered extra virgin stuff. Oh, and the mozzarella should be from buffalo milk (although I have to confess that I love this salad so much I even enjoy eating it with the bog-standard rubbery mozzarella from supermarkets).

As you can see from the photo, I don't go in for the classic 'Caprese' presentation as I find the overlapping spiral of perfect slices rather clinical and austere. I just tear the mozzarella, roughly chop the tomatoes and pile it up on a plate - so much more inviting and just begging to be devoured.

RECIPE (for one person)

a ball of mozzarella (buffalo if possible)
a handful of tomatoes (any size or variety as long as they've got flavour!)
fresh basil leaves, about 5 or 6, or to taste
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Roughly chop the tomatoes and tear the mozzarella into chunks. Place on a plate, scatter over the basil leaves, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. (I use black pepper too because I think it really enhances the flavour of tomatoes but you would never see it in Italy).
Serve and eat.

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