Tag Archives: extra virgin olive oil

INSALATA CAPRESE (NOT QUITE)

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.

RECIPE

Insalata Caprese (Not Quite)

Ingredients

  • 2 Japanese black trifele tomatoes
  • pesto (see previous post)
  • burrata
  • basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Slice tomatoes lengthwise and remove seeds and the flesh with a grapefruit spoon
  2. Place a tablespoon or so of fresh pesto in each tomato half
  3. Place a ball of burrata in each tomato half. If you cannot find small cheeses, cut a larger cheese in quarters.
  4. Top with a few fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil

 

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PESTO

It is basil season. We have harvested the plants in our back yard, and many stalls at the farmers market have big, beautiful bunches of basil picked just that morning. That means it is time for pesto.

Pesto is really one of those things that you can make without a recipe and adjust it to your personal preferences

Pesto is also something that you can keep for a while. For years we made fresh pesto and ate it all, believing that if you didn’t do that it would immediately turn an unappetizing brown. We didn’t even think about freezing it. The truth is, you can do both.

If you want to keep it for a day or two, put it in a container with an air-tight lid, cover it completely with olive oil, seal the lid, and pop it in the refrigerator. If you are going to freeze it, divide it into amounts that fit into the cups of a muffin pan, freeze pan overnight, pop out the pesto “muffins”, and double bag them in zippered freezer bags so you can use the amount you need without having to thaw the whole batch.

RECIPE

Pesto

Ingredients

  • large bunch of freshly-cut basil, enough that the leaves will fit into the beaker of a food processor
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, more if needed to make a sauce-like mixture
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, grated
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Wash the fresh basil, cut or pull off the leaves, and dry them in a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Transfer the leaves to the beaker of a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade.
  3. Add the olive oil and process until the basil has been chopped very finely.
  4. Add the garlic and Parmesan. Continue to process for 30 seconds or until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add the pine nuts and pulse until the nuts are well-chopped but not puréed. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Adjust consistency with additional olive oil, if needed.
  6. Serve over cooked pasta with additional grated Parmesan and dry-roasted pine nuts. If desired, store for a day or two in an air-tight container topped with olive oil and refrigerated or freeze and double bag individual portions for later use.

PS: Here’s a little lagniappe from our garden:

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