There is nothing better than picking up sun warmed tomatoes and smelling them, scrutinizing their shiny skins for imperfections, thinking of ways to serve them.
~José Ramón Andrés Puerta(a/k/a José Andrés)

So little to be said about this sublime salad from the Island of Capri, found in the Tyrrhenian sea off the Sorrentine peninsula, on the south side of the gulf of Naples — a timeless tricolored culinary classic (sometimes).

INSALATA CAPRESE (CAPRESE SALAD)

2 lbs heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/4″ thick
1 lb fresh mozzarella (di bufala if possible), sliced 1/4″ thick
1/4 C packed fresh basil leaves

3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

On a platter, alternately arrange fine quality tomato + mozzarella slices + basil leaves, overlapping them. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Pourboire: subtly shower with aged balsamic vinegar in lieu of extra virgin olive oil or better yet with the EVOO even though the two will not meld. Then again, add a few slices of fresh avocado or eggplant or try substituting arugula (with fresh oregano), kale, swiss chard, pesto, or watercress for your green.

TOMATO COULIS

1 lb red & yellow heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded and sliced
2 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and cut
Sea salt, to taste

1-2 TB extra virgin olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Raw sugar (turbinado)

Peel, seed, and slice the tomatoes into 2-3″ wedges, and drop in a food processor fitted with a steel blend or simply a blender. Process or blend on high speed with cut garlic until smooth. Pulse the food processor or turn the blender to low, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add salt, wine vinegar and raw sugar in dribbles as needed and pulse or blend low. Do not strain and refrigerate, if necessary, until ready to serve.

Commonly, tomato coulis is served underneath grilled, roasted or sautéed meats, fish or vegetables or even used as a dip for fritters, sandwiches or other finger fodder. Just a slightly subtle divergence from an earlier post.

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INSALATA CAPRESE

Simplicity wielding the scepter.

Traditional balsamic vinegars are aged at least 12 years to achieve their distinctive scents and flavors. Grapes are slowly cooked in copper cauldrons, then combined with older balsamic vinegars to hasten the acidification process. The preparation is eventually transferred to oak barrels, which infuses it with the wood’s aroma.

24 fresh basil leaves, julienned
4 ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4″ thick
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil
Good quality balsamic vinegar

Cut the basil leaves into a julienne of thin ribbons by stacking several leaves on top of each other at one time. Then, starting at one long edge of the stack of leaves, roll them up tightly into a compact cigar shape. Cut the roll crosswise into slices about 1/8″ thick. Set aside.

Drain the mozzarella cheese of any excess water and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut the mozzarella into slices about 1/4 inch thick.

Lightly sprinkle the top sides of all the tomato slices with the sea salt and black pepper.

Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices on a platter or on individual serving plates in an alternative, overlapping pattern. Drizzle them evenly all over with the olive oil and then with the balsamic vinegar. Scatter the basil julienne over the tomatoes and mozzarella.

Pourboire: Consider adding a few leaves of sliced arugula.