Post #484 Caprese Again?

June 27, 2016 at 11:50 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #484 Caprese Again?

Summer just started and we’re already inundated with farmer’s markets and roadside vegetable stands.  Part of that is to pull in the tourist traffic on the weekends.  But we love it since we don’t have to actually grow anything and still get cheap vegetables and fruit that taste amazing.  We’re at the beginning of the tomato season which will stretch through September or October depending on weather and the huge number of varieties.  Green beans are good now, too, and lettuces of various kinds are showing up.  So salads are on the table a lot.  Sometimes they’re what I call chunk salads where there is no lettuce but a lot of veggies cut into large-ish chunks.  Other times, they’re the basic salad greens with other veggies nestled inside.  And then, there are the ones I call theme salads.  Theme salads typically have a special name that means that salad made the same way every time and no other.  A good example is a Ceaser salad.

ceaser salad

I had a Ceaser salad last night, matter of fact.

Sidenote:  Whenever I see a salad with croutons on it, I remember a story my younger brother related to me when we were in our early twenties.  He’d been assigned a construction job at a city two hours away from home, so his company put him and his crew up at a hotel and gave them a per diem rate so they could eat every day.  He told me on their last night they went to a really nice restaurant (nice for them, it was probably IHOP) rather than their normal fast food.  He said when they brought his salad “it had dried up, old, stale bread crumbs all over it.”  I laughed and explained those were croutons and were supposed to be there.  His reply was classic.  “I don’t care what they’re called.  I made them take it back and take them off!”

Yesterday at work, a lady came through my check out line with several fresh ripe tomatoes and two balls of mozzarella cheese, among other things.  We got to talking about Caprese Salad, since that’s what she was making that night.

“I just slice the tomatoes and cheese and arrange it in a circle and top it with fresh basil, oil and vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt.”

I thought, “Yeah, that’s how to build a Caprese  salad.”

Caprese Salad

To make a successful Caprese salad, all the ingredients have to be a fresh as possible, and as ripe as possible.  The dressing should be simple to allow the flavors to shine.  If the tomatoes are very fresh and ripe, a light drizzle of olive oil and a very light sprinkle of salt will be all that’s necessary.  I’ve also added a flavored vinegar lightly, usually a fruit flavor like pear or raspberry to add a counterpoint.  Occasionally, I’ll add a few croutons (dried up stale bread crumbs) or nuts/seeds to add a light crunch element.

About a year ago, I posted about this:

tomato stack 01

It’s a Stacked Caprese salad.  You layer the tomato and cheese on top of each other and drizzled the dressing over it all.  It’s different, entertaining, and appealing.  It’s still a Caprese salad because it’s tomato, mozzarella, and basil with dressing, but it’s a twisted version of it.

In my latest cookbook acquisition from ATK called “Essential Recipes”, I found another twist on the Caprese salad.  For the record, I haven’t completed reading all the way through this book, and certainly haven’t tried the salad, but it looks and sounds good, and ATK is reliable so why not?

I’ve included page scans of the picture and recipe.  It’s their recipe; I’m not profiting from it; I’m sharing it to improve the lives of other cooks.  Hope you like it.

Avacdo Caprese.jpg

ATK Pasta Caprese Salad

It says to serve the salad warm, but in summer I prefer chilled salads so I’d chill it for an hour before serving, but only after the cheese had melted a bit, etc.  But that’s just my take on it.

Enjoy

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