Victor’s Capri-Style Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

La Caprese alla Moda di Victor

Buffalo mozzarella comes in a ball about the size of a large fist, and the tomatoes for a Capri salad are round and usually about the same size so that the diameter of a slice of tomato is more or less equal to that of a slice of mozzarella. My husband came home once from the market with some mozzarella freshly arrived that morning. In the kitchen there was a basketful of very ripe, delicious cherry tomatoes. Victor pondered the difference in dimensions and, since he could not match the tomato to the mozzarella, he decided to reverse the procedure, matching the mozzarella to the tomato. He dropped the two into a bowl, adding a fistful of torn-up basil leaves. What we discovered was that when the salad is tossed, diced-up fresh buffalo mozzarella discharges a considerable quantity of milky whey, which merges with the juices released by the tomatoes. Together with the oil and vinegar of the seasoning, these juices form a delectable pool that, in between bites of the salad, you sop up with a crusty piece of bread. It is almost better than the salad itself.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ripe, sweet cherry tomatoes
  • A 10-ounce ball of imported fresh buffalo-milk mozzarella
  • 15 to 20 basil leaves, depending on size
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar; see Note
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Good crusty bread

Method

  1. Wash the tomatoes and slice them in half horizontally, across their middle. You should get about cups.
  2. Cut the mozzarella into ½-inch dice, approximately cups.
  3. Tear the basil leaves into smaller pieces by hand. You should have about cup.
  4. Put the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil in an ample salad bowl. Add salt, toss once; add the pepper and the vinegar, toss again; add the olive oil, and toss thoroughly several times. Let rest for 20 minutes, but no more than 30, before serving with crusty, and possibly grilled, slices of bread.

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