Saturday, July 24, 2010

Insalata Caprese

They are here now in Ohio in abundance, glorious tomatoes. My Favorite way to eat them is slice them a little sea salt and some crushed red pepper flakes. My second most favorite is Insalata Caprese, that classic combination of ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, salt and cracked black pepper, chiffonade of basil and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Some of us go a step further and add a drizzle of balsamic syrup, this is an abomination in the eyes of Caprese purists, but it makes me happy so whatever. This platter is great to enjoy alone or a large group and lends itself well to sharing and friends. A few tips make sure your tomatoes never see the inside of a refrigerator. This cold blast will destroy the true flavor and character of the tomato. Your basil should have been grown in the ground, not the tasteless hydroponic variety. Your olive oil should be extra virgin, try to stay away from the olive/vegetable oil blends. Your salt should be sea salt, but you can use kosher in a pinch. Your pepper should be fresh ground, your choice black, white, green, pink or a blend of different peppercorns. Your fresh mozzarella should be buffalo, but then again if you want to substitute boursin or baby goat, feel free it is your salad. Last but not least the balsamic syrup, some people like it on the salad and some people do not. I feel the additional acid from the vinegar helps cut the richness of the olive oil and the cheese. If you want to make your own syrup, it is quiet easy start with a quart of balsamic vinegar , add 1/2 cup of brown sugar, mix, place over medium heat and reduce by 75% or until you are left with a cup of syrup. Let cool and transfer to a storage vessal , a glass bottle or plastic squirt bottle until needed for your salad...or a bowl of ice cream or strawberries (that is another entry). So go out and enjoy the fruits of summer, yes tomato is botannically a fruit...until next time


Foy Update - Garden Cook Write Repeat said...

I've been curious about balsamic syrups. How long are they good for? Refrigerator or not? Tell me more. I've got caprese on the menu this week and now you've got me thinking about adding this syrup.

Oh and I'm so very will you on making sure tomatoes never see the inside of a refrigerator. In fact I'd rather most of my produce never saw the inside of a fridge.

Chef Tony Layne said...

Sorry just noticed the comment hope I am not too late getting back to you. I hold mine at room temperature. They can be refrigerated, then brought to room temperature, but I have found this leads to the sugars crystalizing. Since it is vinegar concetrated it is a very poor growth medium for bacteria and the like....I usually run out before they go bad. You can always scale recipe up or down using the recipe above as a base. thanks for reading and love the tomato photos on your site...what do you shoot with?