Italian Salad Caprese Style
One of my all time favorite salads to make and to eat is the deliciously simple Caprese. During my trip to Europe I probably ate variations on this classic at least a half-dozen times. Not only is it wildly popular in Italy, Spain and France but plenty of restaurants in the US have it on the menu.
But first things first. It’s important that if you’re going to order it in a restaurant, please learn how to pronounce it correctly. I’ve seen many a wait staff break into a little grin when their customers try ordering a Caprese salad. You’ll thank me the next time you want to order it off a menu. No more pointing to it or saying something weird like, “I’ll take the kapreecy salad.” Or save yourself any embarrassment by just making it at home.
If it were summertime, I would have gone out to my garden and harvested my own fresh tomatoes and basil. Sadly it’s wintertime so I was forced to improvise. Today I used sweet cherry tomatoes, basil pesto from a jar and the only fresh herbs I had, Italian flat-leaf parsley. I also threw in some other ingredients that aren’t part of a classic Caprese salad. Instead of slicing a 4 ounce mozzarella ball I used tiny mozzarella balls, my favorite green olives, and some pepperoni slices.
Keeping store-bought herbs fresh
I have a trick to keep those expensive store-bought herbs fresh for up to 2 weeks. As soon as I get home from shopping I put my herbs, cut side down, in a glass jar. I fill the jar with an inch or two of water. Place the jar in the fridge and you’ll have fresh herbs to use for several days.
This jar of parsley is about 10 days old…still looking fresh.
It might be the middle of winter, but this salad makes it seem like summer.
- 1 cup red cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 cup yellow cherry tomoatoes halved
- 1 8 ounce container fresh mozzarella ciliegine drained
- 1 cup castelvetrana green olives
- 2 ounces pepperoni sliced
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon basil pesto
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
In medium size bowl combine, red and yellow tomatoes, mozzarella balls, olives, pepperoni and parsley.
In measuring cup whisk together olive oil, pesto, salt and balsamic vinegar
Pour olive oil dressing over tomato/mozzarella mixture. Stir gently to combine.
Serve room temperature.
- Use fresh basil instead of parsley if you have it.
- Use any kind of cured meat that you like.
- Use the best vinegar you can find, aged is sweeter and thicker.
- Omit vinegar if you're one of those folks who would never add vinegar to a caprese style dish.
- A splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice also brightens up the dish.
- You could also serve this over a bed of fresh arugula (they did this in some of the Italian restaurants). Italians love their arugula.