It wasn’t until recently that I could eat an Insalata Caprese as is – without picking around the tomatoes for everything else. Over time, I had somehow developed an aversion to whole tomatoes. And a trip to Whole Foods provided evidence that people out there share my tomato mentality: The Insalata on the buffet had been picked clean of all mozzarella.
Lately though, the salad has won me over based on looks alone (Insalata caprese, though simple, is gorgeous), and I’ve been able to at least recognize and appreciate the role of the tomato in the dish. They’re good. Cherry tomatoes especially.
Insalata Caprese is easy as a salad, or can double as an equally simple passed hors d’oeuvres when skewered. I use cherry tomatoes on the vine, as well as bocconcini mozzarella, which are roughly the same size as the tomatoes. Because of that factor alone, they make for an elegant presentation with little effort – all you have to do is halve them. And echoing what everyone else says about the salad, use good olive oil. It makes a world of difference. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry” for recipe)
- Yield: 4 servings, or 6-8 appetizer servings
- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (preferably bocconcini)
8-10 basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Rinse and dry cherry tomatoes. Cut each tomato in half and place in a salad bowl. Slice bocconcini in half. If using a fresh mozzarella slab, slice into pieces roughly the size of tomatoes. Place in bowl with tomatoes.
2. Chop basil leaves into a chiffonade (long, thin strips), add to bowl. Add olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss caprese until combined. Serve immediately.
To serve as an appetizer: Follow step 1 above. Place one tomato half and bocconcini half onto a wooden skewer. Roll basil leaf and place on skewer, finish with another tomato half and bocconcini half. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on tray to serve immediately.