Let’s visit Italy this week! At least virtually! “Insalata Caprese” is one of the Italians’ best-known dishes. The traditional Italian Caprese salad (pronounced “cah-preh-zseh”) contains simple ingredients of tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Avocado slices can also be added if desired. It is said that it started as a “patriotic dish” and a culinary tribute to Italy that visually incorporated the national flag colors and pays tribute to everything that represents Italy. In hot weather, you can serve this salad chilled, but some purists say that tomatoes should never be refrigerated. 

Ingredients:

Tomatoes 

Olive oil 

Fresh Mozzarella cheese or Mozzarella di Bufala 

Balsamic Vinegar

Basil leaves  

Instructions: 

Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into bite sizes. Alternate tomato, mozzarella, and basil leaves in repeating patterns on a plate. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar right before serving. Serve at room temperature. 

What is balsamic vinegar? 

Balsamic vinegar is a staple in Italian cooking. In Italian called Aceto Balsamico and is produced in Italian regions of Modena and Reggio Emilia. There are many different brands with a wide range of prices. As with wine, don’t necessarily go for the cheapest kind. Since we use just a few drops at the time, one bottle goes a long way. Balsamic vinegar is typically aged in wooden barrels for 3-7 years. The longer it is aged, the more expensive it is and also the thicker in consistency it gets. It has a rich syrupy consistency, and it can be served on vegetables or even on ice cream. Visit your local Italian and Mediterranean store to explore the many varieties available.

What is mozzarella di Bufala?

This type of mozzarella cheese is hand-made of buffalo milk from the Italian region of Campania. Buffalo milk and cheese have a more velvety taste and are lactose-free. It is made by hand. Culinary Literacy: Caprese Salad

Library Resources:

Tomatoes Garlic Basil: The Simple Pleasures of Growing and Cooking Your Garden’s Most Versatile Veggies by Doug Oster

Tomatoes by Miriam Rubin

 

The Good Cook’s Book of Tomatoes by Michele Anna Jordan

Magda Born

mborn@kckpl.org

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101

913-295-8250 ext 1103