Caprese Salad: A Simple Classic

Caprese is one of the simplest salads you can make but you have probably noticed that it is also one of the easiest to get wrong - just because the quality of the ingredients is so important.

I'm always a little slow to order it in an Italian restaurant I've never eaten in before, especially as it often appears all year round. Why would you bother making Caprese salad in the Winter?

For me, the reddest, sweetest tomatoes should be weighing down on the vines. After that, it has to be the best extra virgin olive oil possible and the freshest buffalo mozzarella (you should find it in an Italian deli) and don't even bother to make it in the winter. Serve it when tomatoes are ripe, juicy and at the height of their season.  Once you have the ingredients right, you hardly need a recipe. Those ingredients will do all the work.  These quantities are enough for four people.

2 balls of fresh buffalo mozzarella (about 150g or 5oz each)
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh basil*
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes and arrange in alternate overlapping rows on a large plate (or four individual plates).

2. Scatter over some basil leaves, season with salt and pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil.

3. Serve with fresh crusty bread.

In Sicily, I have often eaten a version of caprese salad with fresh oregano sprinkled over instead of basil.  It's a great alternative.  The colour isn't quite as good but the taste is really wonderful.

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