Recipe: Summer Caprese salad by Amanda Long | NevadaAppeal.com

Recipe: Summer Caprese salad by Amanda Long

Amanda Long
For the Nevada Appeal
Caprese salad, an Italian classic, makes a lovely addition to summer potlucks and dinners.
Courtesy

Caprese salad is the salad you’ll want to take to all your potlucks and dinners and brag about to all your friends.

The visual beauty alone is enough to gawk at.

Then the smell hits you and takes you and your guests away to a far off Italy in a field of basil. The combination of tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, pine nuts and balsamic dressing will floor you. Traditional Italian flavors.

I hear in Italy, a salad is served with dinner and the balsamic and olive oil with salt and pepper mix is standard.

The balsamic vinaigrette dressing is just that. But I have also provided a yummy garlic vinaigrette that pairs super well with this salad, too.

Caprese salad traditionally is a slice of fresh tomato, one basil leaf, a slice of fresh mozzarella drizzled with balsamic, olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

This salad transforms that a bit more and adds some healthy greens to the mix.

With a side of grilled balsamic basil chicken and you have a complete fresh and easy meal. (Watch for the balsamic chicken video! It’s coming soon and it will blow your mind how easy and tasty it is).

You can use whatever lettuce you like best. I used spring green mix in the photo; I love the look and I love these greens are full of healthy nutrients.

The greener the greens, the more healthy. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, they taste bitter or they are not crispy enough. Well, use what you like. Obviously iceberg is not going to be as pretty, but if that’s what you like, do it! I have used butter lettuce and romaine, and it’s just as good. Cooking is about making recipes the way you like.

There’s a lot with pairing and texture and color and flavor pairing, but it really comes down to your tastes. Because I or a professional chef think this salad should be made one way, you may not enjoy it because you don’t like the type of lettuce I use. But you might like it using a lettuce you like. So keep that in mind. Play with ingredients you like in recipes that may not call for them. It will sometimes work and sometimes not.

Either way, it’s OK, I always try things, and I have made plenty of yucky or ugly dishes. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, and I’m OK with that.

Caprese salad

1 head of butter lettuce (or your favorite lettuce will do)

1 can cannellini beans

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

Handful of pine nuts

1 container of fresh mozzarella, chunks (boconccini — small balls)

2 basil leaves, chopped

Chop the lettuce into bite sized pieces. Rinse the cannellini beans in a colander and then layer on top of the lettuce. Next, cut your cherry tomatoes in half and layer those over the salad. Thinly slice your red onion, this is key to keeping the onion appealing rather than overwhelming; layer over the salad. Cut the fresh mozzarella into bite sized pieces. I like to buy the small balls and cut them in half, but you can also cube the fresh larger ball. Chop your basil leaves and layer those and toasted pine nuts all around the salad.

Balsamic vinaigrette

2 tablespoons white balsamic (red or white wine are good, too)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon honey or sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

In a mason jar, mix all ingredients and shake vigorously.

Garlic vinaigrette

1 clove minced garlic

2 tablespoons white balsamic (red or white wine are good, too)

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Place garlic clove on a cutting board with one large pinch of salt and mash into a paste with the side of a knife. If you have a mortar and pestle, you can use that, too!

Next, in a Mason jar, add the garlic paste and all the other ingredients. Slap on the lid, and shake vigorously.

Amanda Long is passionate about cooking and posts her favorite recipes at http://www.stuffurface.wordpress.com. She is also the owner of Chive Cooking at http://www.chivecooking.com.