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Monday, December 25, 2006

Cooking Christmas Colors: Insalata Caprese and Baked Goat Cheese with Pesto and Tomato Sauce

Merry Christmas everyone!

I made a very Christmas-y looking salad and appetizer last night. Or I guess any other time of year, it would be Italian colors. :P

Insalata Caprese

Insalata Caprese (Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Salad)

For one large salad, you'll need:
4 medium or 2 large tomatoes
1 lb. buffalo mozzarella (The mozzarella should be the soft kind in water.)
large sweet Italian basil leaves (Buy a large package and use the leftover basil leaves to make pesto.)
2 tsp capers
1 small shallot
olive oil to taste
balsamic vinegar to taste (I use white balsamic vinegar so it won't darken the mozzarella.)
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper

Slice mozzarella and tomatoes thinly. I found that using a thin fillet knife makes slicing the mozzarella easier because there's less surface area for the cheese to stick to. The fresh mozzarella, sometimes called buffalo mozzarella, should be in water and feel very soft to the touch. I slice the mozzarella first so I know how many tomato slices I need.

In a round pan, layer tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil into a circle as shown in the picture.

Sprinkle with a little salt to taste.

Finely mince shallot and capers. Sprinkle on top of salad.

Pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar over salad, according to taste. The balsamic vinegar will turn the mozzarella dark, so if you want the mozzarella to stay white, either use white balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar or lemon juice.

Grind fresh black pepper on top of salad. Cover and let the salad marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.

I love to eat this salad in the summer. It's especially good if you make an Insalata Caprese Sandwich using ciabatta or foccacia bread. Add thinly sliced Italian ham and it's soooo good.

The Baked Goat Cheese with Pesto and Tomato Sauce recipe that was on this page has now been moved to its own entry.

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