I had bought some Ciliegine Fresh Mozzarella—one inch balls of cheese—for my Italian Salad Bar. In the rush to get out the door to deliver it, I forgot to take them out of the refrigerator. Trying to think what to use them for, I remembered that caprese salad is one of Jan’s favorites.
Note: This is a variation of a recipe I have posted before.
Caprese salad is usually thin slices of tomato and mozzarella with a leaf of fresh basil on top—it is reminiscent of the red, white and green of the Italian flag. Although usually served as a starter to a meal, I wanted to use it as a side salad for a deli dinner.
Note: A popular/easy dinner at our house is a selection of deli cheeses, meats, olives and salads with bread and crackers. You simply lay it all out and diners pick and choose whatever they wish.
Ciliegine translates as “small cherry,” so using cherry tomatoes was an obvious choice. I find a one inch ball to be a bit of a big bite, so I cut the cheese and tomatoes in half. I coarsely chopped the basil to be about the same size.
While traditional caprese is dressed only with olive oil and salt alone. I made a dressing with balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, and pepper. I also added some other common additions, black olives, red onion and some mesclun to serve as a bed for the salad.
Karl’s Caprese Salad 3
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar de Modeno
¼ tsp. French thyme
1 clove of garlic, cracked
Pinch black pepper
Pinch Kosher salt
8 oz. Ciliegine Fresh Mozzarella, halved
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
20 large fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup ripe black olives
3 cups mesclun, mixed baby greens
1. Shake the dressing ingredients in a small lidded jar and let them meld for at least 15 minutes.
Tip: If you really, really like garlic, you may crush it to a paste before adding it to the dressing. I simply crush it lightly with the flat of a knife to break it open. I usually leave the clove in the jar when I pour the dressing on to the salad.
2. Put the cheese, tomatoes, basil, onions, and olives in a serving bowl and toss them with the dressing.
3. Put the mesculn in a separate bowl.
Tip: Serve the bowls side by side, so that your diners can lay down a bed of mesculn and then top it with the caprese salad