Insalata Caprese or just caprese, is one of those dishes that most people will have eaten and enjoyed, but not really known what it was, other than tomato, mozzarella and basil salad. The salad originates from the island of Capri, to the South of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of Italy, where mozzarella comes from. Another name, sometimes given to this dish, is Insalata tricolore after the 3 colours of the Italian flag. This salad is usually served as an antipasto (appetizer), rather than a main salad or side dish.
Usually caprese is a composed salad, where the ingredients, fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella di bufala and fresh basil are arranged on a plate with salt and a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top. But sometimes I like to throw ‘caution to the wind’ and make a ‘ripped’ salad with a smashed basil dressing. Using the basil this way, increases the intenseness of the aroma. After making fresh homemade mozzarella this weekend, Insalata Caprese was one of the first dishes I made with it.
How to make a rustic Insalata Caprese
- 3 or 4 small balls of fresh mozzarella (I used mozzarella fior di latte, since that is what I made)
- 2 large tomatoes
- a large handful of fresh basil leaves
- a pinch of salt
- a large glug of extra virgin olive oil
- 0.5 tsp of white wine vinegar
- In a mortar, crush the basil leaves together with the salt using the pestle.
- Add a good glug of olive oil and the vinegar. Mix to combine.
- Slice the tomatoes thinly and drop on to a large plate randomly.
- Rip the mozzarella and drop on to the plate randomly.
- Drizzle the basil dressing over the tomatoes and cheese
- Add some more basil leaves and olive oil as a garnish, and season with a little more salt.
Alternatively, rather than making the basil dressing, carefully arrange slices of tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves alternately on the plate.
Having this salad with homemade mozzarella made it even more tasty than normal. If I could only get a hold of some garden grown tomatoes and basil to go with it, I would be satisfied.