Heaven smells like tomatoes and basil

July 19, 2008 at 11:06 pm 3 comments

Insalata Caprese

Insalata Caprese

Luis says it smells like vanilla cupcakes, but I say heaven smells like tomatoes and fresh basil.

We actually made this before tomatoes were deemed safe to eat. The inner Italian girl in me just couldn’t bear to be without my pomodori, so in defiance of the FDA, I continued to eat them despite the warnings. (No, I’m not really italiana…I only aspire to live la dolce vita.) The tomatoes we buy are locally-grown in a nearby farm or from our own garden, though. By the way, I do not recommend that anyone ignore FDA warnings. That’s not a sensible thing to do. But when it comes to tomatoes in the summertime, I lose my sense of logic.

Before we get to the recipe, I need to throw myself at your feet and plead with you. I beg you, please use perfect, sunkissed tomatoes from a farmer’s market or your own backyard. At the very least, use the ones still on the vine. This recipe originates from the island of Capri, where the tomatoes and basil are fragrant and full of flavor, so I’m told. Insalata Caprese is only as good as the ingredients, and I swear to you that if you take the time to find the best, you’ll fall in love with this beautiful summer salad.

Rustic Insalata CapresePestle, mortar, and basil

Serves four.

  • 4 five-ounce balls of buffalo mozzarella
  • 2 handfuls of mixed ripe tomatoes, different shapes and sizes
  • white of 1 spring onion
  • 2 tbsp (plus more for drizzling) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tbsp herb vinegar
  • big handful of fresh basil leaves
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Let’s cook

Cook one:

  1. Make the basil dressing. Keep a few basil leaves aside for later, and chop up the rest. Use a pestle and mortar to mash it up, add a pinch of salt, mash some more.
  2. Add about two tablespoons of the oil, and mash it all again.

Cook two:

  1. Tear the moz into bite-sized pieces. Throw onto a serving plate.
  2. Roughly chop the tomatoes and finely slice the onion. Add to serving plate.

Both cooks:

  1. Drizzle some olive oil and herb vinegar on top.
  2. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the basil sauce, and toss to coat.
  4. Arrange reserved basil leaves on top.
  5. Serve with a country loaf and a pinot noir

And here’s Luis eating a traditional, sliced Insalata Caprese in a Florence trattoria.

Vini e Vecchi Sapori

Vini e Vecchi Sapori


Entry filed under: Cheese, Recipes built for two, Salads. Tags: , , , , .

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies Under the Texan sun

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Frank Camacho  |  July 29, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Who is the poser behind Luis?

  • 2. More basil and tomato love « a couple of cooks  |  July 29, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    […] the basil sauce from the Insalata Caprese. Smear on ciabatta slices after grilling, but before assembling […]

  • 3. teaspoon  |  August 6, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Oh goodness, that picture is making me drool!


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