Fresh Caprese Salad
It’s hard for me to make a recipe for you to follow and I apologize for that… but I don’t! For me, recipes can be a little too formulated and strict because above all else, you need to make sure you taste your food and season it accordingly to make sure it has that perfect flavor when it is served. Preparing good food is about using the freshest and highest quality ingredients you can find, and also seasoning it properly! With that being said and taking that into consideration here is the best recipe I can provide you.
What you need:
- Spinach – only use the undamaged leaves
- Tomatoes – preferably Roma tomatoes
- Cheese – preferably a fresh, soft mozzarella
- Olive Oil – Extra virgin, please
- Balsamic Vinegar – I only use Balsamic Nectar
- Salt – a coarser grind, I like Pink Himalayan
- Pepper – Fresh ground black pepper from a mill
As for quantities, it depends on how much you are serving and what ratios you prefer. You can tell by my pictures what I prefer. Everything after the first three ingredients is to your taste, so those amounts are not designated. If you want to make it a good first course for yourself, two handfuls of spinach, a tomato, and a half a ball of mozzarella is my preference.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: Zero Minutes
Obviously, nothing is cooked.
First, thoroughly sort and clean your spinach. Only use leaves that are not bruised or wilted. Clean them without damaging them. Remove excess water.
Next, wash your tomatoes and chop them into about twelfths, if they are romas. With larger tomatoes, consider cutting them into sixteenths. A thicker tomato provides more texture to this salad and butchering them less helps retain some of those delicious natural juices. Add them to the spinach. Apply some olive oil, salt, and pepper to the two ingredients and taste. You want to be able to taste all of the elements if you have seasoned properly. I usually coat the ingredients in olive oil, toss lightly. Six to eight cracks of pepper, and a teaspoon of salt, sprinkled from 18 inches above the mixing bowl.
Next, slice your cheese carefully, especially if it is soft as to not create messy cuts, into quarter to half inch cubes. Relatively large, I know. Again, this is meant to be a salad with larger components so that every bite can include one of each of the three main ingredients. If they are cut or added in large enough pieces, a fork can easily pierce and hold all three components.
You are nearly finished. Add the balsamic at this point and toss lightly. I usually add half the amount of olive oil that I used.
Now comes the most important step, take a bite of your salad. All three components at once. How does it taste? What does it need? At this point I usually add a drop of the liquids, a crack or two of pepper, a healthy amount of salt. I think the salt helps bring out the other flavors in the dish and cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and the balsamic. The cheese is the only rich component along with the olive oil so the salt has a significant effect in this regard.
Toss lightly again to ensure that every piece of the salad is dressed evenly and then drain the salad. Yes, drain it carefully. Remove the excess dressing. At this point, the salad has been treated so carefully that every component is dressed and the juice in the tomatoes will help keep the salad moist. If you dressed it properly, draining it will have no negative effect. You can save the dressing, obviously for other uses.
The salad is ready and it is time to plate. You can take the rustic approach and use a pasta fork, much more delicate than tongs, to scoop a portion onto a side plate. I prefer serving on a plate rather than a salad bowl because of the composed nature of this salad. If you take this path, make sure that your ratios are correct and there is spinach, cheese, and tomatoes in the serving. Otherwise you can technically and methodically place the spinach first, topped with tomatoes, and finally cheese. That is up to you. A final crack of pepper, sprinkle of salt from above, and without adding final liquid components, serve with a fork.
You can also serve with a slice of good toasted bread and make a crostini. Leave that option to your guests, or yourself… whoever is eating. Note: You can actually finish with olive oil and balsamic, just make sure you do so and immediately serve to prevent the pooling of juices in the bottom of the plate. If the liquid components do pool, make sure you have a piece of bread or something to scoop it up with!
BONUS KITTY PIC