By Michelle Fabio
One of summer’s best treats in Italy or anywhere is Insalata Caprese or Caprese Salad, which, incidentally, also proudly displays the colors of Italy’s flag (red, white and green).
Named for the island of Capri on which it is said to have originated, this is a dish that can, technically, be made year-round, but if you want the flavors at their best, the heart of the summer is when you should enjoy this delightful salad.
The traditional recipe couldn’t be simpler: sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with freshly torn basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt.
But now for the details, because these are what will turn your good Caprese Salad into something your Italian neighbors will covet:
- The tomatoes should be red, vine-ripened, firm and flavorful.
- The cheese used is traditionally mozzarella di bufala, which is a specialty of the area surrounding Naples, Italy, but you can also use a good quality mozzarella made from cow’s milk.
- The basil should be fresh, fragrant and young to ensure the best flavor.
- Use the best quality olive oil you can find and afford.
- You can also use freshly ground black pepper to season if you like.
- Some people also dress this with balsamic vinegar, which I love in most circumstances but personally don’t like how it mixes with the mozzarella in appearance or flavor. To each her own, of course.
- Serve this immediately after preparing it with crusty Italian bread. You don’t want this to sit very long on its own it can become soggy.
- Sit back and wait for compliments.