Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Copyright © 2008
Insalata Caprese gets its name from its place of origin: Capri, an island off the western coast of Italy, near Naples. It became a popular dish when Emperor Tiberius took a liking to it sometime around the end of the first century B.C. Although at that time, Italy did not exist as we know it today, it can be said that it was a representation of the future Italian flag—red, white, and green. Use only the ripest, reddest, most delicious tomatoes you can find, and only fresh mozzarella will do. To use packaged mozzarella in this antipasto is to commit a crime—and if you ever tried it in Italy, you’d probably be hung. It is also very important to use extra virgin olive oil because that is the main flavoring ingredient, the element that will influence almost every bite you take. Insalata Caprese looks as delicious as it tastes. Eaten with a fresh piece of Tuscan bread, it is unbeatable. Some people add oregano or chopped red onion; that’s fine, but this is the traditional way to make the salad.
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 pound fresh mozzarella
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Wash the tomatoes well and cut out the stems. Cut the tomatoes, either crosswise or lengthwise, into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut the mozzarella into ½-inch-thick slices.
On a serving platter, overlap the tomato and mozzarella slices. Start at the outer edge of the platter, going all the way around, then work your way to the center of the platter.
Drizzle the olive oil over all the tomatoes and mozzarella. Then sprinkle the salt, pepper, and basil evenly over everything.
Keep the platter covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until you are ready to serve it. Once the platter is made, serve the salad within 2 hours, preferably within 1 hour.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.