Happy Tuesday, everyone!
I was thinking to post about my chocolate mousse for the dubious occasion of Valentine’s Day, until I realized that 1. the mousse post would be late anyway, as it would be ready to photograph too late for anyone who’d want to make it for this specific Valentine’s day (I am not one of those food bloggers who makes food just to take pictures of it!), and that 2. the mousse is a fantastic recipe to post anytime, and not just when the entire internet is drowned in chocolate recipes for Valentine’s day.
So therefore, you get chocolate mousse with bourbon later, and today there is a post about another one of my favorite-ever things to eat: Insalata Di Caprese.
Insalata Di Caprese, at its most basic, is a ripe tomato, a good ball of mozzarella sliced thickly, and basil leaves, all dressed in a simple extra-virgin olive oil. The marriage of textures and flavors is perfect, and the way tomato and fresh greens infuse into the trembling softness of mozzarella is… well, there is a reason why the salad is famous the world over. It is not actually known if the recipe originated on Capri, but when something tastes so amazing, do we really care? I certainly do not! Nor am I one of those snooty purists who say that adding anything at all other than the above ruins the salad. I never believed that some fresh garlic, black pepper, bacon or parsley did it any harm, and I love it with the peppery bitterness of arugula in particular. Since arugula, tomatoes, mozzarella and good bacon are all fridge staples in our home, this makes arranging the lunch that much simpler – and yes, we do eat endless variations of it on a fairly regular basis.
The testament to how great this is, is that for all we eat it often, it is still enough of a favorite that I turned to it without a second thought when it came to figuring out what to do for a light and festive Valentine’s Day lunch for T and I. And, going by the adage that bacon makes everything better, I decided to add some crisped slices of really good smoked local bacon – and the celestial pigs sang hallelujah, for we ate it and it was very, very good! The smokey and not-too-salty crunch of the pork set off the tart sweetness of the tomatoes and the milky mozzarella di bufala campagna, and made for a salad that was both, fresh, savory and satifying – a perfect lunch to precede the likely indulgence of the evening meal.
Oh what, you need a recipe for this?! Fine, then! This will serve two.
- A few handfuls of arugula with a few optional basil leaves mixed in.
- A ball of good-quality mozzarella (buffalo mozzarella being the luxury for today), sliced gently.
- 10 thin slices off a piece of dry, warm-smoked bacon (or any bacon of your choice), fried slowly on low heat to render the fat until they are crisp. I found that scooping the fat out of the pan as it renders, makes these crisp a lot faster and better.
- 1-2 ripe tomatoes, sliced.
- A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of flaked salt, and some dried lavender or black pepper to taste.
Toss the greens into wide salad bowls, arrange the sliced mozzarella on the greens, and the tomato on the mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt and spices and drizzle with olive oil. Top with crisped bacon. Serve. If the boyfriend hadn’t had to work in the afternoon, a bit of sparkling wine would have gone amazing with this!