Collegiate Chef: Caprese Salad

I’m going to be honest with all of you right now: this recipe was not even remotely what I was planning on writing this week. Don’t get me wrong, I decided to do this because I love it and it’s easy and fairly inexpensive, and those are some of the goals I have for this column, but my original plan was to make bagels. And I did! I made bagels the same day I made this, and took pictures of the entire process, and then I completely neglected the idea in favor of what is quite possibly one of my favorite dishes. See, I love caprese salad. I think it’s just the right mixture of fresh and rich and creamy and tangy, and it’s quite a bit easier than bagels.

Another really great thing about caprese is that it’s actually quite versatile. I have it by itself for lunch or dinner fairly frequently, but it works great as a side dish if you’re making food for more people. I’ve even tossed it with pasta for a more filling main dish. (If you do this, I highly recommend gnocchi, which is a type of pasta made from potatoes. It’s easy to find in stores, but also surprisingly easy to make.) On top of all this, it looks great, which is always a bonus.

Caprese Salad

Serves: 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

1 package fresh mozzarella pearls (or a large mozzarella ball, cubed)

1 package cherry or grape tomatoes

Balsamic glaze

Fresh basil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

1. Cube your mozzarella ball, if necessary, or open the package of mozzarella pearls and put them in a bowl.

2. Cut your tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Add them to the bowl of mozzarella, along with a pinch of salt and pepper, and toss gently until they’re evenly distributed.

3. Stack your basil leaves and then roll them up. Cut the basil into short strips before adding to the bowl.

4. Add balsamic glaze to the top, to taste.

5. Enjoy!

 

A couple notes:

I prefer cherry tomatoes to grape tomatoes, as I’ve found they have slightly more tartness to them and I like that in the salad. When I use grape, I usually add a little more salt to offset the sweeter tomato. As far as balsamic goes, if you haven’t put it on before, start out slow. If I’m serving this to multiple people, I’ll sometimes put it on the table instead of putting it directly on, as there are varying preferences. If I’m making this for lunch the next day, I usually do it in halves and completely leave off the basil and balsamic until just before I leave in order for it to taste fresher. All in all, the recipe is down to your taste, so figure out what you like and go from there. Good luck!