Insalata Di Caprese, and Then Some!

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!

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6 thoughts on “Insalata Di Caprese, and Then Some!

  1. Mmm… you had me at BACON!!
    I’ve been on a salad binge for awhile, finding some good and cheap avocados. Can’t seem to leave it alone as plain ol’ vegetarian, just had to add bacon … the meatarian in me cries out. Love a good fresh salad for lunch anyday. I also have a weakness for arugula and it gets dumped into every salad I have! :D

    1. I love avocados – but they have to be good. Again, like with ginger, avocado-buying in Europe is like lottery: one day they are gorgeous, the other day all I see are small pears of green misery fit to hammer nails with, and the day after they are all mushy and gone off… But yes!

      Bacon is even better with avocados! Avocado, bacon, some greenery and lemon or lime juice, and some salt and black pepper is one of my other huge all-time favorites. And there’s nothing wrong with making your salads … baconier! So long as you buy it from places where the pigs are happy and well-kept!

    1. Oh definitely! If I have any sort of dry-cured ham (prosciutto, jamon, speck), I will happily throw that in as-is, just torn into pieces as well.

      The perfectly-striped bacon in the photo is a local product from a very very fat pig (I think that rendering 10 small thin slices gave me about a deciliter of fat into the bacon-fat jar!), and it is cured without adding water after smoking. So when it is fried, there is zero water release and it crinkles into the stripey perfection. One of my favorite things about living in Sweden is the quality of the local pork – they really do know how to treat piggies right!

    1. Like Zoe above mentioned, prosciutto crudo or Di Parma or any of its varieties is a frequent Italian addition to it – but I had none of that on hand, and trust me, well-smoked piece of bacon, sliced thinly makes for a really really great addition!

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