Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Insalata Caprese


I really wasn't sure if I should post this recipe because this salad is so easy it's not necessary to even have a recipe. But I guess the truth is I just wanted to show off the buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella de bufala campana) and tomatoes that Yo carried all the way from Milan. I am truly blessed with friends like Yo who carry such presents across the seas for me. Then there's Su too, who gave me excellent parma ham from her recent Med cruise. I got the message: they wanted an Italian meal. And so Yo, Su and their families came over for a Sunday lunch of insalata caprese, pizzas (I only make two types now, rocket parma ham pizzas and olives, mushrooms, peppers and anchovies pizzas), veal sausages, a rose chiffon cake that turned out even better than the first one I made, green tea konyakku jelly and sweet, crunchy nangka from my garden (K, all the fruits from my tree were tons better than the one you had when you were here).


Su said my pizzas were "better than Little Italy's"  (to which I protested, arrogantly) so she upped the accolade to "pizzas I ate in Florence". I love my friends. But if you try out my recipe, you'll know if Su told the truth.

Note the rings on her fingers ("At our age, bigger is better").

Yo's insalata caprese is an elegant restaurant-style version of overlapping layers of cheese, basil leaves (plucked screaming from my garden) and tomatoes (which were not ripe enough), doused with EVOO and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. It was such a hit! I was hoping that the kids wouldn't want their share but no such luck with our bunch of kids. Wey, who had never had buffalo mozz before (hotel buffet mozz don't count), is now crazy about it.

Yo left a single ball of mozz for me which became my lunch the next day. My version is like me, random and a little crazy: carelessly cut tomatoes, torn basil leaves and mozz flavored with lots of EVOO and freshly ground black pepper. However, next time I will snip the mozz into thick chunks because tearing them makes them stripey and thin. There's nothing like biting into a chunky piece of springy milk-flavored buffalo mozz soaked with milky liquid.

We had a great time, and I look forward to more Sunday lunches such as that. Which really means I hope Yo reads this and gets the hint.


Insalata Caprese
buffalo mozzarella
fresh basil leaves
ripe sweet tomatoes (I prefer the big cherry tomatoes)
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
lots of extra virgin olive oil

--either slice or cut mozz into chunks, same with the tomatoes. Put everything on a plate and sprinkle lightly with the sea salt and pepper and drizzle with lots of EVOO.


Anonymous said...

Terri, you do make the best pizzas. Everything looks so delicious. I am salivating just looking at those pictures.

Plain Jane said...

My most fav salad, Capri Salad!! Gonna try make ur pizzas!!

Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthday Terri!

Terri said...

Oh my....Yum! One of my favorite foods :o)

Feed Me said...

Wonderful! Buffalo mozzarella is the best! Shame it's difficult to find it here...

terri@adailyobsession said...

r: why don't we have a cooking fest one night. will be fun:)

plainjane: must do tt n tell me if u lkie it. if u go to my pizza post, look at the comments n tips from the lunch guy. he used to work with a guy who makes the best pizzas, according to him, n the tips r invaluable.

anon: wah, whoever you are, u rmbered:)

terri: me too. one day i want to eat a buffalo mozz like a steak, drizzle it with olive oil, season with s & p, surrounded by passata...

feedme: lim lee seng brings it in but frm australia not italy n it's over rm100 a kg bucket, including the water. one day when i'm crazier than usual i'll buy it.

the lunch guy said...

as always, beautiful looking food terri. i especially like the pizza shot. that might be due to the fact that i have been on a diet for the last 4 months to help shed all the pizza i consumed in the previous year and haven't had any for so long, but again, AWESOME.

when i trained with my mentor his variation on "Insalata Caprese", which i think is a great dish, is as follows:

substitute a high quality (probaly no need to mention that to you) goat's cheese for the mozz. get the soft type that is in the shape of a log. the night before roll the cheese in a mélange of rough ground peppercorns and fresh chopped herbs. thyme, oregano, parsley, and sage are good, but fresh is the key as it always is. then let it rest in the frig over night.

next, slice your ripe tomatoes (slightly thicker than you usually would so they can sit in the marinade without falling apart) and marinate them over night in some good balsamic vinegar and pesto infused olive oil. be sure to use a non-reactive container for that. :-P note: i keep my pesto in an over-sized jar and top it off with the best olive oil i can lay my hands on. this way i always have some good scented oil on hand.

the next day when you are ready to chow down, simply assemble these as you would a traditional one with mozz, and drizzle with anchovy infused oil. note: i do the same with the anchovies as i do with the pesto, add extra oil to an over-sized jar half full of the little fishes. this oil is also great when sautéing. i do not know about your local, but here in BKK ‘chovies are expensive for good quality ones and only using the oil is a great way to add subtle flavor and economize for those who wish to.

then garnish with some fresh chopped herbs, or set on a bed of greens and enjoy.

the lunch guy said...

i must be getting old, i forgot to mention another sterling tomato and mozz recipe (so easy too): Sun-dried tomatoes and Mozzarella with Pesto. i used to make so many of these in one night i could prep 12 or 15 in advance and never worry about them not being sold out before the end of the night.

1. take a slice of good mozzarella, place it on a 1/2 of a SDT (that has marinated EVOO with fresh rosemary, thyme, fresh lemon 1/2'd & peppercorns) on the mozz, dab it with a good pesto, and roll it up.
2. place that on a spear of belgian endive (known as witloof to people outside of america).
3. then place 5 of these on an appropriately sized plate (for a single serving, more for a party or buffet pass-around plate). garnish with thinly sliced black lives.
4. pop into mouth and enjoy. lick fingers, enjoy even more. have the person sitting next to you lick your fingers, both of you can enjoy. :-)

see image here:

terri@adailyobsession said...

lg: i am so blessed by you! i have written tt recipe down. rmber the tips you gave me on making pizzas? they have made my pizzas AMAZING :D.thanks to you!

the lunch guy said...


you have a level of style and panache that far exceeds most floggers. plus, i think you are a genuinely good person. this is so apparent by the things you choose to do, the causes you support, and the following that you have. (not to mention the way your children have turned out.) i have almost completely forsaken my flog as i get a lot more enjoyment from reading and commenting on yours.

it is a pleasure and a privilege to be allowed to share your POV on food, travel and life. it is uplifting in a world full of bummers and downers.

you have a wonderful following of interested and involved foodies, and as the saying goes, a person is the sum of the people they know and associate with.

so many blogs and other Internet social networking sites are rife with discord, hate speech, i told you so's, and chest pounding flaming trolls. it says a lot about you and your project that you have not attracted these kinds of people and comments.

hungerhunger sets the mark quite high and never fails to meet or exceed it.

terri@adailyobsession said...

*blushes* i'm not all that but if you insist... but you really are giving me a lot of pressure bc i don't want to disappoint you. btw, anchovies oil sounds great. now why didn't i think of tt? i'll open all 12 cans of anchovies (rm5.80 per 56 g can) and put them in a clean jar in the fridge, top with more oil n use the oil for salads n dressings. thnx for the great idea, keep them coming!

the lunch guy said...

you know, you're right. you are not all that, you are more ... humble.

one thing that you need to keep aware of when doing this anchovy/oil thing (and pesto and all the others) is you should use a clean utensil every time you dip into it so as not to contaminate the jar and its contents. the oil will be solidified coming out of the frig and it will not pour freely. further, return it to the frig immediately after using it so that a rise in temperature will not cause it to spoil either (kitchens tend to be hot). sure, there is a lot of salt there, and it is difficult for something like that to spoil, but being careful can't hurt.

here is a short list of condiments that i do this with so that i can have infused/flavored oils to work with (i dedicate an entire shelf on the frig door to these flavor boosters):

sun-dried tomatoes (with rosemary & thyme sprigs, bay leaf, lemon weges & peppercorns)
roasted peppers/pimentos
grilled artichoke hearts
roasted garlic
roasted shallots
olives of every description
capers (the brine as they are not in oil)

all of the above with a bit of good vinegar or lemon juice is all yo need to dress a salad.

i also render certain meats and poultry of their fat and use small amounts to accent my sauteing. these would be (in order of popularity):

beef (this is great to oil muffin tins when making popovers)

another thing i like to do is use an abundance of oil when making a meatless tomato sauce, marinara. i tend to make a 3+ gallons at a time so that i can stash some in the freezer for a rainy day. (i also find larger batches have much more flavor than smaller ones)

when i start the marinara i always use anchovies and their oil along with the veggies and olive oil. i will purposely put an extra pint or so of the extra virgin in. then, when the sauce is finished, and cooled down, the oil will have risen to the top. i then skim this awesome rose colored oil off and store it for a later date. the uses of it are endless. HINT: saute some shrimp in it, toss that with some angle's hair pasta, black olives and drizzle it with pesto and grate some fresh cheese on top and a twist of black pepper. a great fast, light and easy dish for lunch or a starter.

and then, there are all those rolls of compound butter that i keep in the freezer ...................

terri@adailyobsession said...

lg: i did lug a kilo of sun dried tomatoes back frm pisa. how should i keep them? in EVOO n basil, oregano? why do my pesto sauce spoil in the fridge after a week? is it bc the jar isn't sterile enough? the leaves aren't dry enough? i put plenty of oil n enough salt.

the lunch guy said...


When I went to post this it was too long so I have posted it in 3 parts.

You are a confirmed foodie nut case, you have lugged 2 kg of SDTs around the globe. I typically pack 1 lb. tins of Hormel's Corned Beef Hash (12, a half case) into my luggage as it is not available here in BKK. The over-weight charges tend to elevate the stuff into the same price range as fine wine or Wagyu beef, but that's my childhood neurosis, not yours.

I will assume that the tomatoes you have are not packed in oil and that they are dried, not-semi-dried. 2 kg is a lot of product so I suggest that you remove a small portion from the bag, “burp” out as much air as you can, seal the bag tightly (zip lock bags are great for this, and freeze them. Alternatively you could use a large all plastic box with a tight fitting lid.
Next, bring an amount of water that will cover the tomatoes to a boil in a stainless or glass sauce pan (not aluminum), add a few whole cloves of peeled garlic, a sprig or two of rosemary, a few of thyme, a good bay leaf, a lemon cut in half (do not squeeze the juice out), and some good whole peppercorns. Note: I think you are a knowledgeable enough foodie to determine how much of these to use, especially the lemon. Then add the dried tomatoes, let the water return to a boil and then turn of the heat. Do not boil the tomatoes; you are simply going to let them steep in the hot water until they have cooled. If yo do not wish to have them scented in the manner I have described by all means use what you want or is available in the way of herbs or none at all.

Once the tomatoes are reconstituted, and cooled to room temperature, pour them into a strainer to remove as much water as possible. Let them sit in the strainer for a short while and shake/toss the tomatoes every minute or so to get all the water out that remains. Do not wring or press them out like you did with your socks in the uni dorm, just let them drip dry like.

Place the tomatoes, herbs, spices and lemon (1/2 of a lemon is usually enough) into a VERY clean jar or plastic container that you can seal tightly, and cover with the very best olive oil you have. Seal tightly and refrigerate. If you are using a jar that you have recycled, which has a standard type lid, place a piece of film wrap, or a section of a plastic bag, over the mouth of the jar before putting on the lid? (If you are using film wrap fold it over itself a few times so that it is not to thin and can be torn when you screw the lid on.) In this way you will not have the metal from inside the lid come in contact with the contents inside. Older style canning, or mason jars as we call them in the USA, that come with a thick washable rubber gasket, and a glass lid that is locked down with a metal latch are the best type to use. (see image: Or the modern style ones that have a strong rubber seal built into the lid already (see image: I prefer this type ( but they are not so easily found these days. Alternatively, but not so eye-catching and trendy, is a good all plastic container that has a very tight fitting lid. If you are concerned about the amount of things you store in your frig, square containers will always help you to economize on space, and they usually stack better too.

the lunch guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the lunch guy said...

When using the tomatoes always take what you need from the container with a clean fork or spoon, and immediately return the rest to the frig. These will keep for about a month or more if handled with care. If you are using only the oil, and leaving the tomatoes in the container, always top it off with more oil to cover the contents inside. You can also use the garlic or rosemary in any dish that you wish.
Tip/idea/variation: instead of putting fresh whole garlic cloves into the mix, use roasted garlic or char-grilled onions that you add when storing it all and topping off with the oil.) Whatever you do, whenever combing ingredients make certain they are all at the same temperature when doing so, this will also help to prevent mold from forming over time.

the lunch guy said...

In regard to pesto, and any other item you wish to store for the long-term, using a jar or container that has been washed in a dish machine is best because the temperature was high enough to kill any bacteria that may have been present. (Keep your “contaminated” fingers out of the container whenever possible.) Again, if you are using a jar that you have recycled, which has a standard type lid, place a piece of film wrap, or a section of a plastic bag over the mouth of the jar before putting on the lid?

If you have grown the basil in your own garden I will assume that you have not used pesticides and the basil is not contaminated, it requires no washing as the leaves have not been sprayed with chemicals and they never came in contact with the soil. If it is purchased from a source you are not sure of soak the basil in water to clean it, and then dry it in a salad spinner to remove as much moisture as you can, then if need be, blot GENTLY with clean paper towels. Do not bruise the leaves as they will turn black as I am sure you know. Then proceed and make your pesto as you would normally.

Transfer it to the jar or plastic container you will be storing it in, and then cover it with a good amount of oil. Then seal and cover in the manner described above. When using the pesto, again, only introduce a clean spoon into the container. If you want to use only the oil, do not stir the contents. If you wish to have a good solid pesto, scoop it from the bottom leaving the oil behind. And finally, stir it all up and spoon out a very loose pesto for drizzling (as in to decorate a plate rim, soup, or possibly a grilled piece of chicken or fish). I like to simply grill a piece of fish (swordfish steak is great for this) and then drizzle a little SDT oil, pesto oil and the oil from Greek olives onto the fish and finish it with fresh ground pepper and a wedge of lemon on the side. This same combination is great on cubed Feta cheese or a salad.

I hope this is understandable and what you were asking about.

the lunch guy said...


The introduction of water into oil that will sit for long periods of time, over 2 weeks, needs special consideration,


This is why I stress the proper and hygienic handling of the ingredients, containers and serving utensils. It is best to only produce and store as much SDT, or other infused oil that may have water introduced into it, in small amounts that can be used in the stated time period.

One way to avoid all of this is, but can take a bit longer than the process I describe above, is to not use water at all. Warm, not hot, a small amount of the olive oil and soak the STDs in it until they are reconstituted and cooled to room temperature. Then place them into a clean jar, add the herbs, spices and garlic, and top that off with oil and store as described above.

If at any time when using these kinds of homemade products you see that there has been expansion within the container (puffy lid) or you hear a “belch” or release of air from the container when opening it, it is best to discard it and not consume it.

If presenting this as a gift to someone always make sure it travels without getting warm and that the recipient of the gift is made aware of how to handle and use the gift.

In all of my years of doing this I have never had a problem, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

I REPEAT: Never let the product sit out and get warm. Keep it in the frig, use it, and immediately return it to the frig.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...