This Caprese Salad has all my favorites; burrata cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil drizzled with olive oil. Caprese Salad is one of Italy’s most famous summertime salads and I love it! Our summer is quickly coming to an end, even though it’s still hot as heck…here in Encino but I can’t get enough of my summertime dishes.
This salad is my quick Friday version of Nancy Silverton’s Mozza Caprese which I always order when I go to Mozza Pizzeria. “At Mozza, we wanted to come up with a version that would be wonderful year-round, even in the winter when the tomatoes aren’t so spectacular,” chef Nancy Silverton explains. So she reinvented the salad with the deeper flavors of slow-roasted vine tomatoes, creamy burrata cheese, and bright hand-pounded pesto. The leftover pesto is great on pasta or as a garnish for soup or grilled food. Serve the salad with plenty of crusty bread to sop up all the wonderful juices. Shh! don’t tell Nancy but I used store bought pesto! Still Awesome!
Don’t forget that short cuts can work perfectly as well!
Ali in the Valley
6 tbsp. pine nuts
2 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
¾ c. chopped fresh basil
¾ c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. good-quality olive oil
½ c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 lb. baby Roma or cherry tomatoes on the vine
2 tbsp. good-quality olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 lb. burrata or balls of mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella)
8 large fresh basil leaves
4 tsp. good-quality olive oil
To make the Pesto Sauce: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spread the pine nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and fragrant. Watch the pine nuts closely, because they burn easily. Pour onto a plate and let cool.
Transfer the pine nuts to a mortar, add the garlic, basil, parsley, and salt, and pulverize with a pestle to a smooth paste. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, working it in with the pestle, then add the cheese, again mixing well with the pestle. Just before serving, season with the lemon juice then taste and adjust with more lemon juice and salt. You should have about 1 1/2 cups. You will need 1/2 cup pesto for this recipe. The remainder will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.
To make the Insalata: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the tomatoes, with their vines intact, on the rack. Brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Roast for 4 to 4 1/2 hours, or until the skins begin to shrivel like a raisin but the tomatoes remain plump. Remove from the oven and let cool.
If each ball of cheese weighs 1/2 pound, cut it half; if each ball weighs 1 pound, cut it into quarters. Slice the cheese crosswise into slices about 1/4-inch thick and arrange them on 8 small plates or a single platter. If using burrata, season the cheese lightly with sea salt. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the pesto over each cheese portion.
Using scissors, snip a basil leaf over each cheese portion. Again using scissors, snip the vines of the tomatoes to create 8 equal portions with their vines intact, and arrange the tomatoes on top of the cheese. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon olive oil over each serving of tomatoes and serve immediately.