By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
When the weather is hot like it is these days here in Firenze, I never really feel like cooking. I prefer something light and healthy, fresh and quick to prepare—like a simple Caprese Salad!
The story of the Caprese salad dates back after the World War I as an invention of a patriotic mason who wanted to honor the Italian flag. He created a dish with the red of tomatoes, the white of mozzarella, and the green of fresh basil. How patriotic!
The secret of this iconic Italian summer dish is to always use choice ingredients, like fresh fior di latte or bufala mozzarella cheese, ripe roma tomatoes, fresh basil and a good Extra Virgin olive oil.
The tomatoes should be neither unripe nor overripe; they must have some sauce but also retain consistency.
The fior di latte must be large—if possible, a piece that is at least half a kilo (the quality of the flavor is directly proportional to its size). Small mozzarella are therefore not suited.
Mozzarella di Bufala could also be a good, tasty choice.
Basil leaves must be broken by hand and not with a knife, otherwise the basil may take on a metallic taste. Note: Never substitute with oregano, which might be too invasive for this recipe.
2 lbs. vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
Bunch of fresh basil
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt and Black Pepper
On a large platter, arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them.
Drizzle with oil and season your Caprese salad with salt and pepper.
The Caprese should rest 20 minutes to let the flavors mix together.
Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), and Superfoods, Ippo is currently finishing her latest work, The Lords of Florence (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).