Authentic Insalata Caprese is the perfect Italian dish. A simple Italian salad combines juicy tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella cheese, tender young leaves of basil, and olive oil.
The first mention of Insalata Caprese dates back to the roaring ’20s in Italy on the Hotel Quisisana. A patriotic mason wanted to make a dish that was a proper tribute to Italy that visually incorporated the tricolor of the Italian flag into the presentation of the salad.
After the initial positive response, the Authentic Insalata Caprese was desired by many but failed to become mainstream until the late King Farouk, in the 1950s, asked for a light afternoon snack and was served a Caprese sandwich. The rest is history!
Visitors from other regions began to flock to the area, and Caprese salad soon became a staple of Capri food and culture. Over time, the recipe was refined and improved by adding bufala mozzarella instead of the traditional vaccine mozzarella.
Authentic Insalata Caprese has evolved to include a few leaves of wild arugula and a pinch of dried oregano, both local ingredients; everywhere else in Italy, it’s simple; made from tomato, mozzarella, basil, extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil, and maybe a pinch of kosher salt and freely cracked peppercorns are added.
Tips to make Authentic Insalata Caprese
Don’t use the same humdrum red tomatoes. Look for selecting different tomatoes and shapes to add different textures and tastes to your Authentic Insalata Caprese. When choosing from a farmer’s market, look for those tomatoes that feel heavy. They will usually be the juiciest.
Most people will take tomatoes from the refrigerator, slice them into quite thick slices, and plop them unceremoniously on a platter with thick slices of inferior fresh mozzarella cheese. That’s a big NO. Tomatoes should never be refrigerated. It makes them very bland, watery and robs them of their delicious flavor. It is best to keep them at room temperature for quality flavor.
The cheese for authentic Insalata Caprese has to be fresh, quality mozzarella. It’s the only cheese able to add that delicious white touch that a true Insalata Caprese has. Not all fresh mozzarella cheeses are made equal. It’s essential to choose the one that adds the most incredible taste and texture to your salad.
The basil you use should be small young, tender leaves. The flavor is much more intense. The sweet “Genovese” variety is best for this salad, although if you have problems finding it, the standard, larger-leaved version will do, too. There’s nothing like plucking your basil leaves to add to your homegrown tomatoes for your deliciously Authentic Insalata Caprese.
Suggested Equipment for Authentic Insalata Caprese
Sharp kitchen knife
Four large organic tomatoes sliced
Sixteen- ounces of fresh mozzarella sliced
Ten to twelve young tender, organic basil leaves
Kosher salt optional but recommended
Black pepper optional but recommended
Four tablespoons Extra-virgin Olive oil + more if desired
Authentic Insalata Caprese
- Cutting Board
- Sharp knife
- Serving platter
- 4 large Tomatoes sliced
- 16 ounces Fresh mozzarella sliced
- 10-12 Basil leaves
- Kosher salt optional
- Black pepper optional
- 4 tablespoons Extra-virgin Olive oil + more if desired
- Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each on a large, shallow serving dish.
- Drizzle the Authentic Insalata Caprese with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste
- Serve the Authentic Insalata Caprese immediately.
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