The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

8:25 PM

What's on the side? Individual Insalata Caprese

Posted by Magic of Spice

Individual Insalata Caprese

The Insalata Caprese is traditionally served by layering fresh ripened tomatoes,
fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves then dressing with high quality olive oil and
a bit of salt and pepper...Although you have more than likely seen this salad arranged
in various ways and dressed in as many. Including being served as an appetizer atop
 fresh bread or crostini. Or perhaps for your non-vegetarian guests you could serve as
 an antipasto salad by adding a bit of cubed salami and prosciutto?
 The possibilities are quite varied as are the options for serving. But for purposes
of this post we are going on the assumption that you are madly in~love
with my execution and plating :)

So we will just move on with a few words about our ingredients, and in my opinion
some important factors pertaining to this classic dish. So let us begin with the tomatoes
a very important and key ingredient...make sure that you use nice ripe tomatoes, and
avoid refrigeration as this can cause your tomatoes to become mealy. Another
factor in the choice of tomatoes is that your dressing is based off the juices of your
tomatoes and the olive oil, so the riper, the more juicy the better.

Now lets talk cheese...we are using fresh mozzarella which can be purchasable
in brine or water . This is a semi soft cheese that is traditionally served the day
 it is prepared, however packaging can add to its longevity when refrigerated.
This cheese is not aged and meant to be consumed as fresh as possible. The
texture should be wet and smooth with a soft, mild flavor. This cheese will be
of either buffalo or more commonly today, cows milk.

Next, your olive oil...this is an occasion to bring out the good stuff. As our salad
is dressed based on our juicy tomatoes with the add of olive oil, well you get the point.
For me I like the extra virgin, cold pressed and unfiltered variety.

What you will need:
4 small to medium ripened tomatoes
*Note: I used black or mahogany heirloom
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup basil chiffonade
A handful or so of arugula, or other garnish lettuce
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Get this look:
Start by carving your tomatoes into individual bowls. Making sure
to carve out over a bowl to retain juices. Now take your mozzarella ball(s)
and cut into small cubes. Add the majority of your olive oil (or to taste) to your
tomato juices, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in your cubed mozzarella,
and thoroughly coat the cheese.
Fill each tomato bowl to brimming with the mozzarella.
To create your basil chiffonade, take your fresh basil leaves starting with the largest
 and stack them. Now roll them beginning at the widest end until you meet the
narrowest end. Take your roll now and slice the width with a sharp knife to
 create ribbon like slices of basil. Adorn the top of your tomatoes with your
basil chiffonade. Now you can create small nests of arugula then place
your tomatoes on top of each nest. Drizzle with additional olive oil and a bit
of cracked pepper.

Alisha~ Magic of Spice

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