INSALATA CAPRESE (mozzarella, tomato and basil salad, from Capri, for four)
This simple salad, from the island of Capri, was created at the Trattoria da Vincenzo in the 1950s. It has evolved on Capri to include arugula and dried oregano, both local products, but throughout the rest of Italy basil provides the green (another Italian flag salad!). The dressing is always a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil – no vinegar or lemon. Because the salad depends entirely on very few ingredients, make sure that your basil, mozzarella, oil, and tomatoes are top quality.
2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced ¼ inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella (fior di latte, cow’s-milk mozzarella – no buffalo on Capri), sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ cup packed fresh basil or wild arugula leaves (rughetta), washed well and spun dry
¼ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled, (if using arugula instead of basil)
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Alternate and overlap the tomato and mozzarella slices with the basil leaves on a large platter. Sprinkle with oregano and drizzle with oil. Season salad with salt and pepper.