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A Caprese Salad is easy, beautiful and delicious.
I am kind of amazed that we are still here, at home, bracing for tropical storms, bracing for whatever else is coming. (I’m scared to even type those words, because last time I made fun of 2020 in “Jake Ryan and Our 2020,” I wound up on crutches and my daughter caught Covid.)
All of that said, I am thinking easy cooking is best. Sadly, I still like to eat and want whatever it is I’m eating to taste pretty darn good. And I have a fairly tough (spoiled?) crowd to please.
Caprese Salad comes to mind. It’s still hot and the tomatoes are still pretty, and this salad is simpler to put together than any other. The only work is slicing, which is really no work at all. You might spend a little time arranging things, because why not make something pretty? And if you choose not to buy a balsamic reduction, which you can find already bottled up in most groceries, you’ll need to boil a little vinegar. You can do that.
If you’re a purist, you might be making a face. I know, the balsamic is absent in a “real” caprese. Apparently, the idea is that the real thing doesn’t need the acid from the vinegar because it relies solely on the acid from the tomatoes. I think that sweet-tangy drizzle makes a caprese taste a little more special. Skip it if you want, but I’d go for it.
1 cup balsamic vinegar (or use a bottled balsamic reduction)
2 large, ripe tomatoes
12 oz. Buffalo mozzarella
1 cup fresh basil leaves
Flaky salt (such as Maldon)
Fresh ground pepper
In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the vinegar to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and let the vinegar simmer until it has reduced and become syrupy, about 15 minutes. Let the reduction cool.
Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella, and arrange on a platter, alternating tomato and cheese. Scatter the basil leaves over the tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of the balsamic reduction and the olive oil, and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top. Serve with crusty bread to dip in the oil and vinegar.