Caprese (ka-pray-say) is an elegant Italian salad comprised of fresh soft cheese, tomatoes, and basil. High quality mozzarella and balsamic vinegar are essential, but as long as you buy good ingredients this recipe is foolproof. Traditionally Caprese is made with fresh mozzarella, but I like to use fresh burrata instead. Burrata is made from mozzarella, but it has a richer, creamier flavor profile. A small pouch of mozzarella is filled with a cream and mozzarella mixture, which spreads like butter when split open. Some groceries stores sell burrata in the fresh cheese section, or you might get lucky at a farmer’s market or Italian grocery store.
Serves 1-3 for dinner, 4-6 for appetizers
8 oz. fresh burrata (or fresh mozzarella packed in water. I like the BelGioioso brand for both, they sell it at most grocery stores.)
½-1 lb. tomatoes Saucy Note: Tomatoes vary greatly in size and shape, so buy whatever variety you like. I like to use heirloom tomatoes if I can get them-they come in beautiful colors and tend to be more flavorful and better textured.
Handful of fresh basil leaves
2-3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar Saucy Note: Invest in good balsamic vinegar if you can afford it. Grocery stores carry some workable varieties, but you can save a lot of money on a higher quality product if you put a little effort into it. Stores like Oil and Vinegar exist in 18 states and sell a huge variety of balsamic options, and these days there are plenty of boutique stores if you like to support small businesses. I was lucky enough to go to Italy last year, so I splurged on a 20 year aged balsamic while I was there. Thanks to the powers of the internet, you don’t actually have to go to Italy to buy it, so order some here if you feel like spoiling yourself. It also makes a great gift for food lovers in your life. If you’re tight on funds or struggling to find something good, reduce mediocre balsamic into a syrup over low heat to improve the flavor and texture.
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt Saucy Note: Sel Gris is my favorite salt, but it can be hard to find outside of gourmet grocers. Maldon salt is a great chef’s salt that is widely available as an alternative-I keep both in my kitchen.
Optional: Bread, for serving Saucy Note: I tend to have leftover
Warm bread in oven if desired. Saucy Note: If I have leftover baguette or other bread that is getting a little stale, I like to thinly slice it and toast it into little crostinis.
Wash and dry tomato and basil leaves. Arrange basil leaves around edge of plate or large shallow bowl.
Overlap tomato slices on top of basil, working towards the middle of the plate until all slices are used. Sprinkle sparingly with salt-it helps bring out the flavor of the tomatoes.
Arrange the burrata in the center of the plate, and sprinkle with a little more salt.
Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve with forks or sliced bread.