If there could be a simply perfect Caprese Salad, this would be it. Fresh and delicate mozzarella sits inside slices of red, ripe tomato that tastes as if kissed by the Tuscan sun. Basil leaves pinched from a garden plant tucked randomly between the layers help catch the drizzling olive oil. Finally, sea salt and freshly ground pepper are waiting to coat each bite. The only thing missing is a crusty piece of focaccia to soak up every last bit of this concerto. Make sure to have some on hand. Wabi-sabi, I can hear a friend of mine saying looking at the natural simplicity.
On my last trip to Rome, a version of this salad was brought to our restaurant table and I knew I needed to make it. I had already gotten the fresh mozzarella at the market in Rome, but regrettably those wonderful Italian tomatoes would be snatched when I returned home by US Agriculture as soon as the beagle took one whiff. I found some tomatoes locally that had been vine ripened, and were actually on sale. My own basil plant supplied the leaves, and the assembly took only minutes. Use any size tomato you like for a serving, just adjust the cheese slices to fit. For the olive oil I used Basil Olive Oil, although unflavored extra virgin olive oil is fine. Finish with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and.....Buon appetito!
Layered Caprese Salad
3 medium tomatoes, nice and ripe
4 1/2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, packed in water
about 18 basil leaves
basil olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices, keeping each sliced tomato together to reassemble. Do not use the rounded bottom slices. A flat bottom keeps it stable as you assemble the layers.
Slice the mozzarella into 1/4 inch slices to fit the size of the tomato.
Tuck the basil leaves randomly between the layers.
Place the layered tomatoes on a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and serve.
Makes 3 layered tomatoes.