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Caprese salad - Input Junkie
September 8th, 2013
10:16 am


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Caprese salad
This is one of the simplest very tasty things in the world.

Tomato, mozzarella cheese, basil, olive oil. some chopping.

Use the best ingredients you can get, except that you don't have to knock yourself out on the olive oil.

Any advice on finding good tomatoes? If a tomato smells great it is great, but there are excellent tomatoes that I can't smell, and sometimes I can't find any tomatoes that smell like much.

In any case, this time I used kumatos-- they're about an 1 1/2' in diameter, and have a very dark and intriguing red/green skin that's sort of a shimmering brown, and also a batch of cherry and grape (these are sizes, not colors) tomatoes from a farm stand.

It was about a pound and a half of tomatoes for a pound of cheese.

I'd been given a recommendation to use extremely fresh buffalo mozzarella, but it was $30/pound, so I used cow's milk, which is still very good.

Last year, there seemed to be a good bit of fresh basil around that didn't smell like anything, so I didn't buy it. This year, finding basil that smelled like basil wasn't a problem.

A little research turned up a method for chopping basil so that it doesn't blacken-- put some olive oil on it first so that the cut edges aren't exposed to air. I think it helped.

There should be enough basil so that there's some in every forkful, and enough olive oil to cover the other ingredients lightly.

The classic presentation is 3/4" slices of largish bright red tomato, 3/4" slices of mozzarella, and big leaves of basil, but I was carrying the salad to a potluck, so it was just all mixed up in a big container. Also, I was going for flavor, and easiest tomatoes that I could trust to taste like something didn't give the dramatic color contrast. Oddly enough, people ate it anyway.

I was thinking about what could be done for people who can't eat cheese or don't like it, and I think a caprese with chilled chicken or fish might work. Experimentation is required.

Advice on how to pronounce caprese? I've been corrected two different ways (I was going with ca-preese and I don't remember either of them.

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(6 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:September 7th, 2013 04:17 pm (UTC)
1. tomatoes -- no advice. I just hope for the best, and at this time of year if I get tomatoes from the farmer's market I can pretty much trust them all. Otherwise -- I try to get ones that smell good, feel heavy, and are not too firm. See what I mean? No new information there.
2. I don't even chop the basil, I just kind of tear the leaves in half.
3. I can't even contemplate expensive cheese so I just get something nice and don't worry about it.
4. I think you should feel free to experiment with all sorts of combinations of sharp vegetable (or fruit) + mild protein + strong herb.

In the past, for other kinds of salad, I have used oranges when tomatoes weren't in season. I don't know that oranges mix well with basil, though. And clearly once a person starts subbing in other things, the salad will need a new name.
[User Picture]
Date:September 7th, 2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
My mother used to make me a salad of chopped tomatoes and mint. Mint/chicken/tomatoes might make a good mix.
[User Picture]
Date:September 7th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)

[Approximately. The Italian long "e" is slight different from the English long "a". Shoot for the short "e" (as in "bet") - long "e" (as in "beet") dipthong (eh-ee). ]
[User Picture]
Date:September 7th, 2013 10:29 pm (UTC)
I use a plastic crab knife to chop salad greens, and that has helps the leaves from wilting. This is what they look like: http://store.jospices.com/plastic-crab-picking-knife.aspx
[User Picture]
Date:September 7th, 2013 10:36 pm (UTC)
You could also make the #6 centerpiece on this page: http://www.divinedinnerparty.com/edible-centerpieces.html
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2013 03:38 pm (UTC)
Avocado slices work well as a substitute for the mozzerella - but you want to sprinkle them with a little salt.

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