Arriving home after work with the pressing knowledge that I had fresh mozzarella in my fridge, I only wanted one thing: caprese. The humble insalata caprese is a fixture on many restaurant menus, and it’s easy to see why: tender, delicately milky fresh mozzarella, luscious ripe tomatoes and basil represent the perfect fusion of flavor, color and texture.
Sadly and predictably, restaurant capreses often stray from the platonic ideal they represent. Dry, flavorless mozzarella, anemic basil and, worst of all, hard mealy tomatoes seem to be the rule rather than the exception. As a result, I stay away from caprese unless it’s summer and I have complete confidence in the restaurant. After all, the simplest dishes reveal their flaws most readily: when the focus is on the purity of ingredients, the ingredients have to shine.
I made my caprese with a tomato from Songhaven farm and a sauce of basil, parsley, olive oil, garlic, salt and a splash of olive juice and apple cider vinegar. Against tradition? Perhaps. But it was perfect, none the less.
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
1 medium garlic clove
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar (white wine, white balsamic, sherry or apple cider)
Splash of olive juice (optional)
Pinch of salt
Place herbs and garlic in the food processor and blend until finely chopped. Add vinegar, olive juice if using and salt. Process until blended. With the processor running, add olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify. Serve with salads, grilled meats and steamed vegetables, drizzle on sandwiches or use as a marinade.