Caprese salad means summer to me. There is something extraordinary about fresh in-season tomatoes, basil picked from the garden, and mozzarella served on a platter and eaten outside. It is so fresh and simple. Perfection. A meal onto itself. At least for me. I could eat one every day.
On my bucket list is to tour Italy on my stomach. The food traditions of a country can tell you a lot about the country. I want to experience a Caprese in a beach-side restaurant. The salad is beloved in Italy. It originates from Campania on Italy’s southwest coast. Different origin tales abound. To be patriotic, it incorporates the colors of Italy’s flag: red, white, and green. The other story is that it was created for a 1930s Futuris dinner by the chef of a hotel on the island of Capri.
What makes a Caprese salad so special?
First, it is the simple ingredients: tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, oil olive, and salt. The ingredients must be the freshest you can find. All ingredients are essential, but tomatoes are key. Seek out your local farmer’s market or farm stand for your tomatoes. The next ingredient is mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella is the best. Bypass the dry, rubbery stuff. I’m lucky we have Italian delis on the island, such as Bottega Bocconi and Mozz, where I can get the highest quality mozzarella. Next, invest in good-quality olive oil to drizzle over your tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. While researching for this post, I found that it is not traditional to drizzle balsamic vinegar on the salad—something I’ve been doing for years. The only dressing should be olive oil. Next Caprese salad I make, I will dress it with just olive oil to see how it will taste the “proper” way.
Deconstructed Caprese Salad
With my deconstructed Caprese salad, I threw tradition out the window. I used mozzarella pearls, multi-colored cherry tomatoes, torn basil, and lettuce with a simple balsamic dressing. Also, I broke my own rules on a Caprese salad and everything came from BJs. I tossed it all together, and that’s it. The lettuce bulked up the salad, making it more of a meal salad. Two thumbs up from my guys.
Yet anyway. I used dairy mozzarella for this recipe. I wasn’t brave enough to seek out plant-based mozzarella. But I am planning on it. I really like Miyoko’s products. Their vegan butters are as good as diary butter. They offer vegan mozzarella. I will try to find it locally to try it.
Are you looking for more salads? Go here.