Caprese salad is my number one favorite salad!  OK, let’s be honest..it’s the only salad I will go anywhere near.  Caprese is a simple, flavorful, refreshing summertime dish.  It is featured on lots of Italian restaurant menus; the classic combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella cheese is hard to beat.

Can I be honest for a second?  I hate tomatoes….but I do really love caprese salad.  How weird am I?  I LOVE very smooth tomato sauce, but I don’t like the texture and taste of tomatoes when they are cooked and in “chunk” form.  They make me shudder.  I often embarrass my husband and family in public when I continually ask servers at various restaurants whether their red sauce is “chunky” or not before I will proceed to order it.  What am I, five years old?!  My taste buds definitely are and this is apparent if you are a regular reader of my blog. I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but this goes way back to my childhood when my mom had to stand there in the kitchen on spaghetti nights and strain my sauce in a sifter to get every last tomato and onion chunk out so that I would go within 5 feet of it.  Now that’ s a dedicated mother!  Or a ridiculous daughter…one or the other.

Normally, I just completely avoid red sauce altogether when I’m out to dinner.   I don’t prefer to live life on the edge, after all….and having a plate of pasta with chunky red sauce unexpectedly placed in front of me at a restaurant is a little too risky for me.  I did, however, just read an interesting article about taste psychology and why people are so picky regarding certain foods along with explanations as to why this is.  I’ve been telling my husband for years that my not liking tomatoes was a texture thing.  He always thought I was crazy.  Now I know I’m not.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.  Holler at me if you are also weird about food texture so I know I’m not alone in the world 🙂

I feel bad I just picked on poor tomatoes for this entire post, so back to the recipe at hand.  I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for this recipe to find or make a great fresh mozzarella.  It’s imperative.  Also, reducing the balsamic vinegar is important because it makes it a lot sweeter and a bit syrupy.  Well, I may have reduced it a bit much because it was as thick as cold honey.  Oops.  I would totally do it again in a second though because the flavor was outstanding.  You can also make pretty designs with it on a the plate if you wish.  However you make it, the results will be stunning; a feast for both the eyes and the palate.

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

INGREDIENTS:

2 large tomatoes, sliced
6-8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Handful of fresh basil
Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

For the balsamic reduction: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, swirling the pan occasionally, until reduced to about half of the original amount (it took mine about 15-20 minutes.)  Watch it carefully. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, assemble the salad by layering the tomato, mozzarella, and basil.

Lightly drizzle the olive oil and balsamic reduction over the salad and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Recipe source:  thecurvycarrot.com