Insalata Caprese, a salad in the style of Capri, is so simple that you must use the very best ingredients in season or it will be ordinary at best. The required ingredients are fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and good olive oil.
It is traditionally served as an antipasto. Additional ingredients are often added and could include garlic, balsamic vinegar, and, in this rendition, sopressata, an Italian-style dry salami. Let’s go one step further and push it right into the primo course by including some freshly cooked bow-tie pasta.
Since we are on the cusp of summer and fall, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of late summer tomatoes and fresh basil and turn this wonderful dish into a cool night entrée salad. I’m using farfalle, Italian for butterflies. Some refer to it as bow-tie pasta.
I could’ve had more local ingredients if I had my hands on some Bariani Olive Oil from sunny northern California and taken the time to make my own farfalle, which is not as daunting as you might think.
While Oregonians enjoy a wide variety and choice of locally made food products, getting your hands on them can be challenging unless they’re widely distributed. If you live in the Salem area, Rafn’s is a much welcomed business that specializes in stocking local food products on their shelves. You can enjoy lunch there, as they are also a deli. Please support and nurture them.
Freshly made mozzarella isn’t hard to find and is worth seeking out. Better yet is to make it yourself – it’s one of the easiest cheeses to make at home.
It delivers a light freshness that just can’t be packaged for a long shelf life, which is why you often find it surrounded by water and stored in plastic containers.
There are numerous providers of fresh mozzarella in Oregon. Mine came from Full Circle Creamery in Scio, and it’s as fine as any I have ever enjoyed.
Fairview Farm Goat Dairy in Dallas, Oregon makes a goat cheese mozzarella which delivers that familiar tang associated with goat milk products.
The sopressata was from Olympic Provisions in Portland. They boast an impressive list of accolades from coast to coast, including Bon Appétit, Saveur, The New Yorker and O Magazine. They are widely loved and appreciated.
The creative folks at Olympic Provisions are leading a growing group of charcuterie and artisan butchers. Fino in Fondo in McMinnville serves up some wonderful cured-meat products, and Chop Butchery and Charcuterie in Portland includes additional treats such as house-made duck confit and pâtés.
Warm Caprese Pasta Salad with Sopressata
- 1 pound dried farfalle pasta, cooked al dente
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pint small fresh tomatoes, quartered
- 1 bunch fresh basil, julienned and divided
- ¾ – 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 1 ounce good balsamic vinegar or more to taste*
- ¼ pound sliced sopressata or other dry Italian salami of your choice
* You can intensify the flavor of ordinary supermarket balsamic by reducing slowly in a pan over medium-high heat. It will be more syrupy.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a heavy skillet large enough to hold all the pasta and ingredients.
- Add the chopped garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and half of the julienned basil, just to heat through.
- Add the cooked pasta, tossing to mix all together, then remove from pan to a serving platter or bowl.
- Top with the mozzarella and the remaining basil.
- Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar to taste.
- Surround the dish with the sopressata and serve.