There is an elemental purity to Mediterranean food which is hard to describe and which can really only be experienced. So elemental is it, that it is a challenge in my experience to fully participate outside of the region itself. You can taste the fire of the sun, the salt of the water, the limestone of the earth, and the wind that carries it all.
Two salads speak to this elemental nature of the food better than anything else: the ubiquitous Greek salad and the Italian or “Caprese” salad.
Why share something so ubiquitous? Because I love both of these salads for good reason, because the ingredients are ripe from my own garden, because summer will soon fade, and because this past Sunday dinner was comprised of a 5-course dinner of salads made in season. There was no better place to start than here ….
My only nuance on this perfect dish is a twist that might offend some purists which is in itself a pretty ubiquitous twist and that is the addition of a splash (literally: look at the plate) of very high quality balsamic. Indeed, all the ingredients should be of the best, freshest quality you can afford. That’s what makes this dish elemental.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: N/A
Total time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2-8 (adjust your volumes accordingly)
Insalata Caprese with Balsamic
- 1-2 small/medium ripe tomatoes
- 100 grams (4oz) bocconcini cheese
- 2 sprigs of basil, cut chiffonade
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil of the highest quality
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- a few pinches of sea salt
- Prepare your serving plates or platter.
- With a very sharp knife, slice your tomatoes into roughly 1cm (¼”) slices. Discard core and bottoms. Slice your bocconcini balls into equally thick slices. Alternating your tomato and bocconcini, overlap the slices on a plate.
- Remove the basil leaves from the stems and roll them together before slicing into thin strips (i.e. chiffonade). Sprinkle them evenly over the tomatoes and cheese.
- Keeping your thumb over the top of your olive oil, carefully drizzle the oil over the salad. Similarly, drizzle drops of balsamic over the tomatoes (avoid the cheese). Take a pinch of sea salt and lightly sprinkle the salad.
- Serve and close your eyes and think of far away treasures.