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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tossed Caprese

I really like caprese salad, but I've always had a few issues with its traditional composition. Part of my issue is a flavor/texture concern, part is an aesthetic concern.

Let's start with the flavor/texture issue I have. And I will freely admit that I may be the only person on the planet who has this issue, but I doubt it. While I am quite sure that there are a large percentage of you who don't find this a problem, surely there are a few who will read this next bit and think, "Amen!"

I love, love, love basil, but I am not a fan of chewing on a whole leaf of basil. The texture is just so... well, tough. Plus, you don't start getting a good sense of the essential oils until you've chewed that leaf up pretty well. By that time, I'm ready to swallow and so I miss the best part!

What's the cure? Pour a potent basil oil over the salad with just a few shreds of basil for garnish. Make the basil oil by simply blending some extra virgin olive oil together with a handful of basil leaves. Not only does it taste great, but it has a lovely hue.

Issue two? Well, this one may be a little OCD, but when I set up a traditional caprese, I like my cheese slices and tomato slices to be of a similar size. But since tomatoes are mostly spherical, it's impossible to get consistently sized slices, so I tend to only end up using the middle slices of my tomatoes when making traditional caprese. Making a tossed caprese salad, where both the tomatoes and cheese are cut up into similarly sized pieces means I can stop fretting over the size of my tomato slices. (Phew!)

You can make my 30-minute homemade mozzarella cheese or buy fresh mozzarella at the market. Chop up the cheese and some tomatoes, whir together some basil oil, and grate on some fresh black pepper and sea salt, and you've got a beautiful, delicious tossed caprese!

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