A good insalata Caprese is one of our favorite things to eat. That said, I hardly ever order it from restaurant menus because too much is left to chance: the quality of the tomatoes and cheese for example, and some restaurants’ versions of “basil” are questionable. Do I sound picky? For me, a Caprese represents a side of Italian cooking that I adore: wonderful ingredients, just lightly touched, and put together to become something mind-blowing.
We were in Vail at the Farmer’s Market last weekend, and couldn’t resist picking up a tempting piece of burrata which traveled home on ice-packs. Then, as I mentioned, I was the beneficiary of Dawn’s sack of crop-share goodies which is where these beautiful tomatoes came from. With basil growing happily in terra cotta pots in the backyard, making a good Caprese was the only choice for me.
I have to say, once we sat down to eat, it was a bit of a religious experience — the creaminess of the burrata with the sweet tomatoes was perfect together. You certainly don’t need burrata to make a delicious Caprese, but you must have great fresh mozzarella, whether it’s buffalo milk or cow’s (“di bufala“ is, of course, an original Caprese ingredient). The tomatoes don’t have to be heirlooms either, but they must be ripe and if they are grown locally they are just that much more flavorful. With this being tomato season, you should be in luck (at least in the northern hemispheres)!
Burrata & Heirloom Caprese
by Stephanie Kunstle
- fresh mozzarella or burrata, sliced thick
- ripe tomatoes, sliced thick
- fresh lemon juice
- extra virgin olive oil
- dried oregano
- freshly ground sea salt and pepper
- freshly picked basil leaves
- a good aged balsamic vinegar, preferably with a bit of grape must which makes it more viscose
- Arrange mozzarella and tomatoes slices on a plate. Drizzle with the olive oil, and add a light sprinkling (squeeze) of lemon juice.
- Using your fingers, crush a small amount of dried oregano in your hand and scatter over the cheese and tomatoes. Add sea salt and a very small crack of pepper.
- Scatter basil leaves over the top, and lightly drizzle with the balsamic just before serving.