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Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

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Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction is a quick and classic salad that is easy to put together.  It is dishes like these that speak volumes about how delicious simple food can be.  A few basic ingredients and you have yourself one of the most loved salads in the world.

Years ago, when I first had my first ever Insalata Caprese aka the Caprese Salad, I was extremely disappointed. I simply could not understand what the fuss was about a salad that had rubbery cheese, some basil and was glistening with oil – of some kind, hopefully olive.

As it turns out I had not eaten the right kind of Caprese salad. It is on the menu on every Italian restaurant worth it’s salt. So how hard can layering some fresh tomatoes, basil and cheese be? Very!

Want to make the best tasting Caprese Salad ?

A fresh ball of mozzarella, freshly picked basil, vine ripe tomatoes, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground pepper and some salt – This is all you need to make a classic caprese salad. But, in the simplicity of this dish, lies the challenge. It’s a perfect dish to showcase the beauty of ingredients – so use the best ingredients you can afford.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients one by one –

First off the Mozzarella – Traditionally mozzarella di bufala is what what makes a great Insalata Caprese. Its mozzarella made from the milk of the water buffaloes. Since fresh mozzarella is a highly perishable item and the creaminess of the mozzarella dries out, you probably won’t have access to the mozzarella di bufala from Campana.

So what are the options? A fresh made cow’s make mozzarella is a good substitute and is also something more readily available.

Next up – what kind of tomatoes?

Fresh, in season, locally grown tomatoes. Cherry and Grape tomatoes work well. So do a mix of your favorite tomatoes.Pay attention to the tomato seeds. They need to have a jelly like substance to hold them together instead of a watery liquid.

Tips on Tomatoes – 1)Don’t refrigerate tomatoes, unless you absolutely have to. Never use refrigerated tomatoes for caprese Salad.

2) Lightly salt the tomatoes after slicing to use in the caprese salad to bring out their juices.

The Basil – It’s not unusual to find Rucola/ Arugula in the traditional insalata caprese. A mix of basil and fresh oregano is also quite traditional. However, for our salad today we will use fresh basil.

And Last but not the least – The Olive oil. Use real olive oil, the best you can buy.

Is balsamic with caprese traditional ? No. But, we quite like it. If you want to keep the caprese salad as traditional as possible, skip the balsamic. But if you want to go ahead and indulge in this very American style of caprese, use a good quality balsamic vinegar from modena. You don’t need a lot of good quality balsamic vinegar if you use the real deal.

A true balsamic vinegar has a syrupy consistency. It’s aged to perfection and is ideally from Modena. Look for D.O.P., Condimento, and IGP on the label to make a fairly decent choice. You will most likely find an IGP in the supermarket.

How to make a Balsamic Reduction ?

In case you don’t have access to the thick consistency balsamic vinegar, or you already have a bottle of regular balsamic to use ; you can make a reduction.

Take a cup of balsamic vinegar and pour it into a pan. Bring it to a simmer and cook until the vinegar thickens and is reduced by half. Let it cool and use on the salad or any other preparation.

Note:- Do not reduce a true balsamic vinegar that is aged.

That’s all there is to a really good Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction. Good ingredients, treated well make great food.

Progressive Eats Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is all about an elegant summer evening celebration, and our host is Barb who blogs at Creative Culinary. This event is celebrating five years of bringing together great cooks, concepts, and especially great food through the collaboration of Progressive Eats. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the deliciousness we’ve put together for our celebration inspired dishes!

Elegant Summer Evening Soiree!

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Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Tomatoes any variety
  • 1/2 Cup Basil leaves
  • 1 pound Bocconcini Mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Ground Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • 1/2 onion small , cut into rings (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pick the basil leaves off the stems, wash and pat dry
  2. Wash and pat dry the tomatoes and cut into rounds – about ½ in thick
  3. Sprinkle some salt on the tomatoes and keep aside

  4. Start with laying the mozzarella sheet, then tomato and then the basil
  5. Drizzle some olive oil generously and sprinkle the salt and pepper as per taste.
  6. Layer on a few onions on the salad

  7. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar on the salad

  8. Serve at room temperature

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Comments 16

  1. The wisdom of your advice about using only the best ingredients made me smile – so like you to capture what elevates a simple salad. I am with you 1,000%. And in summer, all of these ingredients are available – I just have to get in gear and go to the farmers’ market for great tomatoes.

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  3. What stunning plating Ansh! Looks like what we find in the top restaurants of the world! I love caprese and yours is spectacular. Love the addition of the balsamic!

  4. Caprese is a summer favorite at our house! It’s so healthy and delicious. And, you are right, the secret to a good one lies in the quality of its ingredients. Yours looks perfect!

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