Oh, man do I have a good one for you today!
Yesterday, I came home craving something fresh but extremely flavorful, something healthy yet still a little decadent. It then hit me like a lightning bolt – caprese! Caprese is a classic Italian salad consisting of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt, and olive oil. Rumor has it, it was created to reflect the colors in the Italian flag, but I’d have to check with my Italian friends and get back to you on that one…
The first, the classic, is by far the easiest one to put together. Using a serrated knife, slice one tomato and one ball of fresh mozzarella into as thin slices as you can get them. Layer them on a plate, placing the cheese over the tomato slice, and going on until you have a full circle. Next, drizzle olive oil on the plate followed by either balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction (as I used), and finish by adding fresh chopped basil and a good sprinkling of sea salt and pepper on top. Finito!
So little effort, and look at the result!
For the melon salad, I opted for goat cheese instead of mozzarella, melon instead of tomato, and mint instead of basil. Same method and same topping of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and voila! Totally different yet just as delicious flavor combination. You could also add slivers of parma ham or prosciutto to this for a salty twist.
For the final version, I went a little more Greek-inspired, with an eggplant and feta caprese. This one requires the most effort, which essentially means instead of being done in 5 minutes, it might take you 20☺
For this salad, you will need to slice a larger eggplant into 2 cm thick slices, coat with olive oil, and lay out on either a grill or under the broiler for 10 mins, or until they start to brown.
While the eggplant cooks, stir together 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt with a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, a dash of turmeric, salt, pepper, and, if you so desire, some red chili flakes. Once the eggplant slices are done, layer them onto a plate, pour the yogurt dressing on top, and sprinkle the dish with chopped coriander and crumbles of feta cheese. Very different, but delicious!
And that’s it! Three amazing salads for the price of one – or, if you’re me, three ways to eat more cheese ☺
What I love about this salad is that it can be recreated in so many different ways, according to whatever your taste is. While brainstorming these ideas, I saw recipes for a roasted red pepper/ricotta version, a cherry tomato/mozzarella ball version (on toothpicks!), and even a dessert option using peaches, almonds, and mascarpone cheese.
Let me know if you try any of these recipes or come up with your own version! I’m always trying to find new, delicious ways to eat more veggies, so any recommendations are welcome.