Once again, you can see the colors of the italian flag in this dish. Insalata Caprese is one of my all time favorite salads. I like to serve it over a bed of fresh spinach. Refreshing and light!
The word mozzarella comes from the italian verb “mozzare” which means to cut. Mozzarella di bufala is made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo, a bovine which has it origins in Asia but is now found in southern Europe, South America, Northern Africa and India among others. Mozzarella di bufala is a bit saltier and softer than regular cow’s milk mozzarella. The best quality is considered by many Mozzarella di Bufala di Campania made in the geographical areas of Lazio (near Rome) and Campania (Naples, Salerno, Paestum, Pompeii, including Capri) Regions which became protected by the European Union under Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC like in wines) in the 1990’s. It literally melts in your mouth! In short, mozzarella is made by heating the milk (to separate the whey form the curds), resting, spinning and pulling the cheese curds to shape into balls. The cheese maker will knead the curds like bread by hand, pull-out and cut the mozzarella balls once the cheese curds have reached the desired consistency. This is a semisoft cheese and has a high moisture content. That is why it is sold in specialty food shops in brine and vacuum sealed. On the other hand, good quality mozzarella di bufala is made in many other countries in Europe and the Americas.
Insalata Caprese (salad made in the style of Capri) can also be called Tricolore Salad which also includes avocado. If you want to splurge (it is more expensive than regular mozzarella) and the best flavor and quality, use mozzarella di bufala when you make homemade pizza. Use it as a topping or make Insalata Caprese Pizza. It is amazing!
about 6 servings
2 7 ounce mozzarella di bufala balls
2-3 roma tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh basil coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pepper to taste
drizzle of good quality aged balsamic vinegar (optional)
1. Slice mozzarella and tomatoes. In a plate, alternate placing one slice of tomato over each slice of mozzarella.
2. In a small bowl, place the chopped basil with olive oil, salt and pepper and stir with a spoon.
3. Spoon mixture over mozzarella and tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.