Thursday, September 3, 2009

Caprese salad and related salads from Bill and his mother.

Some of my favorite things as I was growing up were the simple salads that Mom made from garden produce. I was never a fan of salad greens. I did not hate them or refuse to eat them, I just favored the other ingredients.

Slice up cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers into roughly the same sized pieces...a vinaigrette would be wonderful, and we often drizzled it with oil and vinegar, but my favorite was just Red Wine Vinegar(especially what resulted from failed wine attempts) or cider vinegar and lots of black pepper.

Mom always said:" be a miser with the vinegar and a spendthrift with the oil"...Three to one is classic of course. I doubt that this expression started with her.

My personal favorite is related and is something I always look forward to in Italy. They tend to use smaller, intensely flavored tomatoes and sometimes under ripe or colored tomato varieties. It does have that red white and green color combo that Italians always look for in a patriotic dish.

1. slice two tomatoes in 1/2 inch slices.
2. count the slices and slice fresh Mozzarella( the stuff still in water when you buy it) in the same size and number of slices.
3. the same number of fresh basil leaves, ribbons of Basil like a chiffonade or good quality Pesto.

Alternate Cheese, tomato and basil like a spread deck of cards in a line or around a plate in a circle. If using the ribbons or pesto, just the tomato and cheese. Sprinkle the Basil or Pesto on top.

Drizzle good extra virgin olive oil over all. I will sometimes do curls of Parmesan or a mound of olives or Caponata in the center of the plate or circle of cheese and tomato.

I know this is well known today, but lets not overlook something great just because it is now common. Serve with a mound of good Italian or French bread torn in big, rough pieces to soak up the oil and drippings...capers or salt and pepper can be used as well. No need for vinegar here.

If you have trouble cutting nice slices of Mozzarella, try using a piece of thread or dental floss to cut it.  sometimes a knife will leave a very ragged cut or will drag so much as it cuts that the middle of the slice is all shredded and split.
This also works well with cakes.  You can wrap a thread around a layer of cake, crossing the ends and pull through the cake to make two layers from one.  It pulls in and cuts from all sides at once.

No comments:

Post a Comment