Sunday, August 12, 2007

My little Italian adventure - Part 1: That salad

A conversation between my friend Jules and I a few weeks ago went like this:

Me: Hey Jules, you know that salad
Julie: Which salad?
Me: That salad with tomatoes, bocconcini, and basil in it.
Julie: Oh.. "that salad"..
Me: Yeah "that salad"
Julie: What about it?
Me: What's it called again?
*pause* uh I don't know.. but it tastes good with lots of salt and pepper in it.. mmmm.
Me: Thanks Jules, that was really helpful.

I was craving for "that salad" a few weekends ago and was hoping that Jules would know the name since I didn't. Then whilst was going through my Wednesday night routine of flipping through recipe books, I found "that salad" in my Simply Italian cookbook by Sophie Baimbridge. Friends, "that salad" now has a name, it is called "Insalata Caprese" or salad in the style of Capri, a little resort island close to Italy.

Insalata caprese

I can't believe I never thought of looking in that book! This salad is so easy to make and is so delicious that I had 2 helpings with lots of bocconcini and basil. I love the refreshing taste of the basil and the creamy taste of the bocconcini in this salad.

Here are the basic ingredients (and steps). In my little version above I went with some cherry truss and some green tomatoes because I couldn't find any decent plum or roma tomatoes. Knowing the amount of water tomatoes need to survive I can only assume that it is due to the current drought in my little state Victoria.

mmm.. I think I will go make some now...

Insalata Caprese

Some vine-ripened tomatoes (plum tomatoes, or cherry)
Some bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella balls
Extra virgin olive oil
small basil leaves

  1. Slice tomatoes and bocconcini. (or in my case, slice the green tomatoes and halve the cherry truss)
  2. Arrange them in layers of tomato and cheese.
  3. Scatter the basil leaves.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and finish with some sprinkling of salt and freshly grind pepper.


Oh incidentally, this is the start of a 3 post series on my little adventure in Italian cuisine. Whilst flicking through my Simply Italian cookbook I bookmarked two other recipes, one which I had never really tasted before and the other is one I had never attempted outside my Italian repertoire of Spaghetti Meatball (which I should post one day), Spaghetti Matriciana and Garlic Prawn pasta (also made with spaghetti). Stay tune.

- My little Italian adventure - Part 2: The recipe, the ingredients and the woman
- My little Italian adventure - Part 3: Lime panna cotta


Cindy said...

I like this simple salad too - yours looks great! May I ask where you obtained your green tomatoes? I've never come across them around Melbourne.

K & S said...

ooh, this sounds really refreshing, I think I may have to pick up some fresh mozzarella :)

SteamyKitchen said...

love that last photo with the tomatoes. beautiful!

ilingc said...

Cindy: Hi Cindy. I got my green tomatoes from the green grocer in Glen Waverley. That's the first time I ever saw them Melbourne. But because they're so rare, a lot of them were sort of getting rotten because no one noticed them/bought them. I managed to pick two of them which were fairly decent.

The only other place I could think of is perhaps Prahran Market. They tend to have some special ingredients that's usually not found at other markets.

Kat: Hi Kat. It is quite refreshing with the basil. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. :)

ilingc said...

Jaden: Thanks :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

That salad dish is just beautiful!!
I love insalatta caprese but have never had it so wonderfully presented.

IronEaters said...

the pics,as usual,look great =) This simple salad definitely looks and sounds delightful.

ilingc said...

Patricia: Thank you Patricia. *blush* I was just trying to make do with the different sized tomatoes.

ironeaters: Thank you. =) The best thing about it is that it's so easy to make and you can easily make a quick meal out of it if you increase the portion and have it with some fresh crusty bread.

Truffle said...

Your photos are simply stunning! I'm also a huge fan of this salad so it was a wonderful post to wake up to!

photogirl said...

I love caprese! I make it often... especially during the hot winter months. I use large buffalo mozzarella, slice them, top with a slice of a vine ripened heirloom tomato, a whole basil leaf and drizzle a little balsamic and olive oil over the top. Because the large slice of fresh mozzarella acts like a little mini "dish", the whole thing can be picked up and munched on while mingling at cocktail parties. It's always a hit.

So glad you not only found the recipe but a name to go with it!

Peace... :)

ilingc said...

truffle: Thanks Truffle. Gosh, you're up so early! I'm still snoozing at 6:30am.

photogirl: I love your idea about using larger buffalo mozzarella as the mini dish. It's a great idea for appetizers! Thanks for the tip. :)

Jeanne said...

I can't believe I never used to eat tomatoes... and I do believe that this salad was instrumental in persuading me that they are actually not Satan's Own Vegetable ;-) The best thing about caprese is that it REALLY shows off good ingredients, so it's a fab excuse to buy stupidly expensive mozarella and plum tomatoes ;-)

ilingc said...

Jeanne: I so agree with you on this. It really follows the KISS principle when it comes to good food with the best ingredients. I just can't believe it took me this long to find out the name of it. LOL