A caprese salad is so utterly simply that if you don’t use the best quality ingredients and tomatoes in their absolute prime, it will be ordinary at best. NOW, late summer is the ideal time when tomatoes are in their splendor.
Only three main ingredients are required – Tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. Although usually served as an antipasto, this salad makes a stellar light entrée if served with some fine salami and a baguette.
All you need to showcase your fine ingredients is love applied to the preparation and assembly….i.e., fuss over every little detail, and you will be rewarded.
- Fresh vine-ripened tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Fresh mozzarella—look for it in containers filled with water
- Some good-quality salami, sliced — I used Applegate Farms
- Salt and pepper
- Your best balsamic vinegar*
- Your best extra virgin olive oil
- Some great bread to soak up any roaming juiciness
* Very few of us ever buy balsamic vinegar that has been aged for decades and is doled out by the drop. Here’s a trick to kick it up Emeril-style. I figured I would need about 1 ounce (30 ml.) of vinegar, so I poured 2 ounces (60 ml.) in a small sauce pan and simmered to reduce by half. Voilà, thicker and sweeter balsamic.
- Cut the tomatoes into thick slices.
- Julienne the large leaves of basil and leave the small ones whole to garnish.
- Slice the mozzarella as thin as possible (I used my sharp meat slicer and kept it wet by running under cold running water).
- Create a border with the salami.
- Build inward beginning with the largest tomato slices.
- Lightly salt and pepper this layer then add some mozzarella and basil, then sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar, then olive oil.
- Continue building layers like this until tomatoes are all gone.
- Serve bread on the side.
You should use about twice as much olive oil as vinegar or more to taste.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities