Sunday, July 31, 2011

Caprese Salad, Revisited

Two years ago I posted a recipe for Caprese salad, a cold salad made from tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I always like to try new recipes and this version turned out so much better than the first, that I thought I’d share it with you.

Caprese salad is a wonderful cold side dish for hot summer days. It’s bright flavors make a nice change from traditional green salads. It’s at it’s best with fresh tomatoes ripe from the vine, but store-bought ones can be used nicely, as well. Although I use Roma tomatoes in this recipe, you can easily substitute cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or any firm tomato from your garden.

Using fresh mozzarella cheese is vital for the success of this recipe. The blocks you find in the grocer’s refrigerator section aren’t going to cut it. Go to the deli counter and find the round balls of fresh mozzarella. They are tender and creamy, not hard and dry.

Equipment needed
Cutting board
Paring knife
Chef’s knife
Mixing bowls
Salad spinner
Fine-mesh strainer
Small saucepan
Rubber spatula
Measuring cups and spoons
Garlic press (optional)

8 Roma tomatoes (or 2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes)
1 large clove garlic
1 Tbl balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese.
1/2 tsp sugar
3 Tbl dried basil (or 1 cup chopped fresh basil)
Ground black pepper

Core the tomatoes with a paring knife. Quarter lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss the tomatoes, sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt together in a mixing bowl, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. This helps season the tomatoes, and draw out some of their excess liquid.

In the meantime, mince the garlic using a garlic press or chef’s knife. Cut the mozzarella into 1/2-inch chunks.

Transfer the tomatoes and any accumulated liquid to a salad spinner and spin to remove seeds and liquid. Return the tomatoes to the mixing bowl and pour the tomato liquid through a fine mesh strainer over a small saucepan to remove the seeds and reserve the liquid. You should have about 1/2 cup of extracted juice.

Add the vinegar and garlic to the saucepan with the tomato juice. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 3 tablespoons, about 5-7 minutes.

Cool the tomato juice mixture to room temperature. Whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the tomato juice mixture to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes. Add the cheese and basil then toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

1 comment:

Kevin (BBQ Smoker Site) said...

This is one of our favorite salads during the summer. We throw in fresh basil and use white balsamic vinegar. Love it!