Monday, August 31, 2009

Insalata Caprese - Salad of Capri

Two plentiful crops in our summer garden is basil and tomatoes that go together in this traditional Italian salad. Some sources say this salad originated on the isle of Capri and others say that may not be so. One thing is for certain, this salad is served in almost every restaurant in Italy. The layers of tomato, mozzarella and basil signify the red, white and green of the Italian flag.

Insalata Caprese is simple to make and you can assemble it in a variety of ways. Start with slicing fresh ripe tomatoes preferably from your garden or Farmers market. Using a variety of different color heirloom tomatoes we can find so readily here in California makes a stunning presentation on a platter. Slice soft fresh mozzarella; try to keep the slices consistent with the size of the sliced tomatoes. You can place the tomato slices on a serving platter slightly overlapping or just lay flat on the platter. Place a slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each tomato slice. You can be creative and stand the tomato slices on end and wedge a slice of mozzarella between each one. Take fresh basil leaves that have been washed and use as you prefer to serve the insalata. You can place a whole basil leaf on top of each stack, or on every other one, or in-between the standing ones. Personally I like to chiffonade the basil by rolling a stack of leaves together and slicing thinly, then sprinkle the cut basil over all. Drizzle a little good-quality olive oil to your taste. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. I do like to add balsamic vinegar as well when using burrata - a very soft, creamy fresh mozzarella. The balsamic goes so well with it.

Another way I like to make insalata Capese is to use grape tomatoes as seen in the picture above. Using different colors makes a nice presentation. Cube the fresh mozzarella to about the same size as the halved grape tomatoes. Add basil chiffonade and drizzle with good quality olive olive. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. You can also drizzle on some balsamic if you desire. This presentation works very well when entertaining and serving buffet style. You can easily scoop it from the bowl, and eat it from your plate if you are not sitting at a table. This is definaitely a summer Italian delight.


  1. My favorite salad of all....!
    So simple and yet so pure and rich in taste...

  2. I agree Sonia, mine too. It is really one of my very favorite parts of summer; picking fresh heirloom tomatoes from the garden to make this salad. I eat it many times a week all summer long.