Tomatoes and basil. An abundance of both this time of year, so it is time to make that simple classic, sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella slices, basil leaves torn to release their fragrant oils, and a drizzle of the best extra virgin olive oil – nothing more. Even though the salad is apparently popular in homes all over Italy, it has been claimed that the combination was first served on Capri, and hence the name, Insalata Caprese or the shorthand Caprese. I suspect that that account is apocryphal, but what is not apocryphal is the wonderful combination. Over the years, there has been a lot of messing around with the recipe – adding balsamic vinegar, using vinaigrette, etc., etc.
So why am I messing around even more? Because pesto and burrata are so delicious.
I found some beautiful tomatoes at the farmers market. They are dark purple and pear shaped. They are called Japanese black trifele tomatoes and just beg to be eaten. I have also been taken by burrata lately. It raises the game from fresh mozzarella, with creamy ricotta wrapped in a morsel of freshly-pulled mozzarella. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the hen’s egg size gems that I have seen before, and the only burrata I could find locally was at least ostrich-egg sized. So I had to modify my plans, but I think it turned out ok.
Insalata Caprese (Not Quite)
- 2 Japanese black trifele tomatoes
- pesto (see previous post)
- basil leaves
- extra virgin olive oil
- Slice tomatoes lengthwise and remove seeds and the flesh with a grapefruit spoon
- Place a tablespoon or so of fresh pesto in each tomato half
- Place a ball of burrata in each tomato half. If you cannot find small cheeses, cut a larger cheese in quarters.
- Top with a few fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil