Thursday, August 10, 2006

You don't make friends with salad

Not sure what it says that I have chosen to quote Homer Simpson to start this post off but it certainly says something. At my house we are actually big fans of salads. The little one gets salad with dinner and actively asks for them both at restaurants and at home.

Salads are also way easy to make and are great when you have friends over or company. They get everyone to the table and if you are serving something like steak, it allows time for the steak to cool, which you should do.

I have been playing around with how to make basic
salads a bit fancier to serve when company is over and a simple caprese salad seems like a good start.

Caprese salads usually are served to look something like this-

Pretty boring and predictable, I wanted to do something that would be quick but also have great presentation to it. So setting aside my lack of food photography skills (any help here would be appreciated), I came up with this.

If you live in Boston and have eaten at a restaurant in the last 10 years most of your food is vertical. I can not claim huge amounts of creativity with this, but I like how the shape of the salad is an extension of the shape of the tomato. If I really wanted to get fancy, I could have pealed the tomato and then used the pealed skin to make a tulip for the top of the stack.

The basic elements of a Caprese salad are as follows –

fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick
ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar (I like to add it)

Here is my variation -

Start by making it into more of a salad by using a mix of baby spinach, mixed greens and basil around the tomato stack.

-Take the stem part out of the tomato and then slice it as evenly as possible.

-Use fresh mozzarella, not the kind you get at Stop and Shop. If you do not have a good cheese shop, Whole Foods can hook you up.

-Pull apart the mozzarella ball into even layers of cheese

-Assemble layers of tomato and cheese until you basically have rebuilt the tomato

-Sprinkle a little bit of kosher salt, fresh pepper and a little bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

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