Drizzled in a homemade rocket pesto, this mouth-watering caprese salad is guaranteed to your new go-to side dish.
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Perhaps one of the most beloved salads across the globe, traditional caprese salad is also one of the simplest salad recipes to remember; buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and olive oil. The dish, also known as insalata caprese, is believed to have originated on the Italian island of Capri, from which it gets its name. According to folklore, it was first crafted by a stone maker sometime after World War I as a patriotic tribute to the country, with the hues of the ingredients strategically chosen to represent the nation’s tricolour flag.
For such a simple dish, what defines an authentic caprese salad has been the cause of much debate. Should you add balsamic vinegar? Does it matter which size and variety of mozzarella you use? Can you cook the tomatoes first? These are all questions that have led to lengthy discussions and exciting experiments. Caprese salad recipes will all vary, but when it comes to cooking in your own home, all that really matters is personal preference. If this recipe for caprese salad is anything to go by, the options are endless.
A good olive oil might be all you need to perfect the caprese salad dressing, but there are a number of different sauces and toppings that can shake up your salad – the rocket pesto in this recipe is just the beginning. One of the most common additions to the Italian staple is balsamic reduction (also known as balsamic glaze). The popular condiment adds a sweet and tangy layer to the caprese salad’s flavour profile, and steps up the presentation game. For those with a sweet-tooth, try mixing honey and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and reducing the mixture. The honey-balsamic reduction is a tasty twist on the original recipe. Another classic Italian condiment that pairs well with the caprese salad is gremolata – it’s a green sauce made with chopped parsley, lemon zest and garlic. It’s an especially impressive inclusion if you’re planning to serve the salad beside red meat.
As one of the most beloved salads in the world, the traditional caprese salad is always a safe inclusion to the dinner menu – but it isn’t exactly the most creative. As a result, home cooks, chefs and foodies have begun to get experimental with the original recipe with new inclusions and unique presentation. Using baby mozzarella and cherry tomatoes (and chopped barbecued asparagus as per this recipe), caprese salad skewers are a fun way to serve the popular dish and make for easy cocktail-style dining. For a Californian spin, try an avocado caprese salad. If you’re looking to embrace the summer feeling, slice and grill some peach to add an extra layer. There are also a few easy ways to fill out the classic caprese salad to transform it into the perfect workday lunch – try mixing the ingredients with cooked (and cooled) pasta or with zucchini noodles.
With the addition of barbecued asparagus and home-made rocket pesto, this might be the best caprese salad you’ve tried to date. Serve it with Italian-style sausage pasta for a Mediterranean inspired feast. Looking for more of the best salad recipes? The perfect salad is hard to beat, while Luke Managan’s grilled vegetable pasta salad with olives is another fan favourite.
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