Friday, May 8, 2015

Caprese Salad

Caprese salad
Caprese salad
Back home I haven't really explored the cheese sections of our supermarkets. Growing up as we did on Amul processed cheese, I am a slow learner. Here in Delhi, it's so much easier as the arrays of cheeses are displayed to enchant and dazzle. Bedazzled I am but I haven't gone beyond Italian until now. I still have two varieties to experiment but this hot summer day calls for a fresh and pretty salad. So what could be better than a Caprese salad? With a crusty bread that I baked this morning? 
A Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil. It is said to resemble the colours of the Italian flag. In Italy it is usually served as an antipasto and not as a side dish unlike most salads.
Caprese salad
Ingredients for the salad. Salt & pepper are not in the picture
Today isn't the day for our usual lunches of rajma and roti (my son's favourite) with either chicken or paneer and a salad/chutney/raita as side dishes. I'm happy halving and quartering the ripe red plum tomatoes. Are they sweeter than the ones we get in Assam or is it my imagination? I pop one in my mouth. It tastes like grape with a hint of tomato. Mmm, nice. Then I open the packet of cherry mozzarella and drain them. One little ball gets tasted too and I love it!
Cherry mozzarella or bocconcini are like other mozzarella cheeses the size of eggs. They are semi-soft, white and rindless unripened mild cheeses which originated in Naples. They have an elastic texture and consistency. (The last is a description from Flanders Dairy products page). They were once only made from the milk of water buffaloes. Bocconcini literally means small mouthfuls. An alternative name used is Uava di bufala or buffalo eggs.
Caprese salad
Ready for the eating!
Ingredients:
1 punnet plum tomatoes
250 grams cherry mozzarella
A bunch of basil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper as per taste
A drizzle of honey

Wash and dry the tomatoes with a kitchen towel.
Halve the smaller ones and quarter the larger ones.
Drain the cheese (they are packed in whey or water).
Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl.
Taste and make adjustments if necessary.
In a platter, layer the salad ingredients. Spread the bottom with the tomatoes.
Tear off the cheese into halves and scatter them as well.
Tear off the larger basil leaves and add them. The smaller leaves can be kept whole.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Chill for 15 minutes or so before you dig in.
The juices at the bottom taste wonderful. You can give the salad a gentle stir so that the top layer is doused in the juices as well. 

With the remaining few bocconcini I added a crushed and chopped garlic, threw in more torn basil leaves, some extra virgin oil, salt, pepper and in they all went in a bottle and into the fridge. I'm sure by tomorrow these marinated cheese balls will become even tastier! Looking forward to another meal of cheese again!
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