Insalata Caprese

(Tomato and Mozzarella Salad)

Insalata caprese (literally, the salad from Capri) is the perfect summertime dish for cooks in a hurry; slicing is the hardest part. The salad was created in the 1950s at the Trattoria da Vincenzofor regulars out for a light lunch. They’d order a just-pickedtomato and fresh fior di latte (cow’s-milk mozzarella — no buffalo on Capri). The salad has evolved on the island to include a few leaves of rughetta (wild arugula) and a pinch of dried wild oregano, both local products; everywhere else in Italy it takes the form of tomato, mozzarella and basil.

The dressing is always a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil — only. Vinegar would destroy the delicate flavor of the cheese and is never used. Because this salad is so simple, top-rate ingredients are imperative: Hothouse tomatoes and rubbery processed mozzarella are unacceptable.

Can be prepared in 10 minutes or less.

YIELD: Serves 4 to 6


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil or arugula leaves, washed well and spun dry
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled, if using arugula instead of basil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

PREPARATION

On a large platter arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Sprinkle salad with oregano and arugula and drizzle with oil. Season salad with salt and pepper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *