When I gushed over the taste of the summer's first tomatoes last month, several commenters suggested 'insalata caprese' as a simple way to revel in perfectly ripe home-grown tomatoes. "I've done that", I thought but then wondered, "Have I?" No, not really.
You see, way back on Day 87 (yes, I really did count each day during A Veggie Venture's first year, when I cooked a vegetable in a new way every single day, note to self: how mad was that?) I sliced tomato and fresh mozzarella and then drizzled it with good vinegar -- very good! delicious, in fact -- but not insalata caprese, which is drizzled with good olive oil, here, a truly gorgeous Meyer lemon olive oil from O Olive Oil.
So what is fresh mozzarella and how is it different? If you're new to fresh mozzarella, boy, are you in for a real treat! Mostly, we know mozzarella in the 'ripened' bricks of cheese wrapped in plastic from the dairy department at the grocery -- but for insalata caprese, only fresh mozzarella will do. Fresh mozzarella comes in balls about the size of an orange (and some times in smaller and even tiny balls great for small servings) and is packed in liquid to preserve the moisture.
In St. Louis, some supermarkets keep fresh mozzarella in big jars at the deli counter but you have to ask. Other times it's in small sealed plastic tubs, other times in those deli-type containers. Trader Joe's carries 'fresh' mozzarella but it's not very good though if your only source, go for it.
You can make fresh mozzarella at home though it involves plunging your hands into hot-hot-hot water, something I'm not anxious to do but sure wish my nearby cheese shop (the Wine & Cheese Place in Rock Hill) would, again. If you'd like to explore how to make homemade fresh mozzarella, this recipe and instructions for fresh mozzarella from cookbook author Beatrice Ojakangas seem good.)
2010 Update: For a more casual variation of Insalata Caprese, see Tossed Caprese Salad.
Time to table: 5 minutes
1 large tomato, sliced (here the gorgeous heirloom, the Brandywine)
1/4 pound ball of fresh mozzarella, cut in 4 slices
1 tablespoon good olive oil (here, the gorgeous olive oil from O Olive Oil)
Good salt (here, the lovely Maldon flakes)
Fresh basil, sliced thin
Arrange tomatoes and mozzarella on a platter or individual plates. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, top with basil. Devour!
~ Tomato Platter with Olives & Feta ~
~ Fire-Charred Tomatoes ~
~ Tomato & Onion Salad ~
~ more recipes for summer tomatoes ~
~ more recipes for vegetables with beans ~
~ more Weight Watchers recipes ~
~ more low-carb recipes ~