Recipe Box: Insalata Caprese
The food in Italy is one of the many reasons the country is so popular with tourists. But the reason Italian food tastes so good is because of the farm-to-table fresh ingredients so readily available over there. Try as I do, I can never quite replicate the flavours back home in my own kitchen.
However, I do keep trying.
In the summertime, I like to make Insalata Caprese (Caprese salad), which I often have for lunch when I’m in Italy. Tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and cheese never taste so good as they do in this salad, which takes its name from the island of Capri.
The type of cheese used in the salad, mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella), is made from the milk of the water buffalo. It is porcelain white, very moist, and slightly salty. Italian delis or fine cheese shops import it directly from Italy; in B.C., the cheese is available through a producer on Vancouver Island that makes it from their own herd of water buffalo. Bocconcini balls made from cow’s milk are a cheaper substitute and can be found in most grocery stores.
Once you’ve located a source for the cheese, all you need are the freshest tomatoes you can find, fresh basil, and a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1. Cut the tomatoes and the buffalo mozzarella into slices about 1/4 inch thick.
2. Tear the larger basil leaves in half.
3. Arrange the tomato, cheese, and basil on individual plates, alternating between green, white, and red (which just happen to be the colours of the Italian flag!).
4. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.