Caprese Stack with Basil Oil and Balsamic

Caprese Stack with Basil Oil and Balsamic

Caprese Stack with Basil Oil and Balsamic

Caprese Stack with Basil Oil and Balsamic

Tomato and Mozzarella salad or Caprese Salad,  we've all had it in various forms regardless of what it's called, sometimes it's good, other times it's....blah.
More often than not it's poor quality mozzarella and flavorless tomatoes sliced, put on a plate, slathered with dressing and shown a basil leaf with a sprinkling of ground pepper.

Without sounding too negative about one of Italy's most famous salads, Caprese is such a simple dish that it's hard to know how people can go so wrong in producing it.

Tomato and Mozzarella oozes summer to me. 
Sitting outside, table of friends, bottle of rose (or 2), something grilling on the "Q", smell of cut grass and the buzz of the bees. 
Fresh picked ripe plump tomatoes with think slices of creamy Mozzarella sluiced with a freshly blended basil oil and a drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar reduction mmmmm count me in!

Caprese Stack with Basil Oil and Balsamic

That's what Caprese should be. It's all about the quality of the ingredients.

Granted not everyone can go and pick one's own tomatoes but there are lots of farmers markets or organic stores out there that will do the job.
Fresh, plump and juicy are what you should be looking for.
If in doubt don't be afraid to smell the tomatoes to see if they actually sell like tomatoes, they should!

As for Mozzarella, go for fresh from the deli rather than in the packet in the cooler.
Of course buffalo mozzarella is traditional but other types (cow's) are just as good.
Just make sure that it's not too rubbery, it should be soft and a little stringy, and ask to taste if you can. 

Basil, use fresh with good quality extra virgin oil if you can.
It will keep in the fridge for a week or so but be sure to keep it in the fridge as the leaves are not cooked and left out for a long time can become a food hazard.

For the balsamic reduction, don't buy expensive balsamic as it's a waste.
You're going to cook it so save the good stuff for another time.
Here's a link to the Balsamic Vinegar Reduction recipe I added to the Sommelier Chef site.

This recipe should, hopefully, allow you to make a dish that shows tomato and mozzarella in a new light.
A quick tip for eating it: use a serrated knife or a steak knife to cut this, a plain dinner knife will make the stack slide around the plate!

It's simple but delicious.

Caprese Stack with Basil Oil and Balsamic

Plenty of fresh Basil Oil makes this dish incredible.

Caprese Stack with Basil Oil and Balsamic

Salad for 4 people

About 500g Ripe Fresh Tomatoes - at room temperature (allow 1 large tomato per person)
500g Mozzarella Cheese - or abour 3 small balls
About 12 basil leaves - chopped coarsely for garnish
Basil oil - recipe below
Balsamic vinegar reduction - here's the link to the recipe on this site
Course sea salt & freshly ground black pepper


Basil Oil 

1 large bunch fresh basil - washed and dried
500ml extra virgin olive oil 
2 garlic cloves - peeled
½ tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients together until well blended and smooth

The Mix: 

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella in rounds between 5 and 10mm thick (your preference)
Alternately stack tomato and mozzarella until you have 3 complete layers to your stack
Generously spoon basil oil over the top allowing to drip down the sides
Drizzle balsamic reduction around the base of the stack then sprinkle with chopped basil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper


Don't forget to have plenty of crusty bread to mop up with, that's the best bit! 

Drink This: 

Try this Chianti from Italy


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