The caprese salad — a Neapolitan classic, named after the island of Capri — is loved the world over for its simplicity and freshness. It has even become a symbol of Italian cuisine thanks to its color palate, which mimics the Italian flag.
Dressed only in some extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, this is a dish that calls for good ingredients. Seek out proper balls of mozzarella, weighty and as juicy as the tomatoes themselves. Perfectly ripe, sweet, summer tomatoes are a must. Try something like a beefsteak tomato or costoluto, a large ribbed tomato said to be one of the oldest varieties around. Both make great salad tomatoes, as do oblong plum tomatoes like Roma or San Marzano. Go for a very good extra-virgin olive oil, one that is fresh and zingy and hasn't been hanging around the pantry for too long.
This is barely a recipe, but there are a few tricks that you can use to make this simple salad stand out:
- If you have time, try "marinating" the tomato slices in the olive oil and a good pinch of salt an hour or so before serving. The salt draws the water out of the tomatoes, producing a delicious juice. Combine it with the olive oil in a small jar and shake it to make your salad dressing.
- Use buffalo mozzarella. A good ball of fresh mozzarella weeps a milky liquid when cut, which will then pool in the bottom of the dish, seeping into the dressing. You'll want a few slices of fresh, crusty bread to mop it all up.
- Don't be shy with the olive oil. Even if you think you have used enough, always add an extra splash right before serving.
Serves 4 as antipasto
Photos by Emiko Davies
More from Food52...
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How I lost all my money
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- George W. Bush 'ran the country like a cable network,' and other political insights from Chris Rock
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- A brief history of the Christmas present
- How Wall Street is chipping away at reform
Subscribe to the Week