Delicious precisely because it is so simple, the tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad is in refreshingly in-season during the hottest months of the year. Stores may be hawking their fall apparel lines and back-to-school may have already run its course, but we can all feel that it is still very much summer in Arizona. To help you keep the sentiment alive, here are five facts about the best summer salad.
1. It’s the Salad of Capri.
As it’s called in Italian, Insalata caprese, Caprese salad literally means “salad of Capri.” Although nobody knows whether or not the salad was actually first made on the Italian island, it likely originated from a dish made in Capri from a different type of cheese, cacio, served with tomatoes.
2. The ingredients make up the Italian flag.
The dish has remained popular in Italy not just because it shows off the best and freshest of Italian summer food, but also for some because of its patriotic appearance. The red, white, and green colors of a caprese salad echo the red, white, and green on the Italian flag.
3. It actually doesn’t need oil or vinegar.
In recent years, it has become trendy to put balsamic vinegar on caprese salad, and many people also drizzled olive oil on the dish. But true caprese actually doesn’t need anything added to it—not any oils, and not any seasonings.
4. Small mozzarella balls need not apply.
The mozzarella that goes into a traditional caprese salad can be either buffalo mozzarella or fior di latte mozzarella (from cow’s milk). Regardless of type of milk, the mozzarella should be larger in size—no perlini or bocconcini balls.
A large mozzarella ball or ovoline cut into slices should do the trick to add the right ratio of mozzarella flavor to a well-prepared caprese salad.
5. Caprese is an appetizer, not a side dish.
If you talk to Italians, caprese is seen as an appetizer that is enjoyed on its own. That means it is often served without bread or any other accompanying items, so that you enjoy the simple flavors of the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil by themselves.
Since all three ingredients are at their peak season during the summer, the flavors are going to be at their finest and freshest. What better way to celebrate the sunniest time of year, than with its most delicious bounties?
While many foodies will claim caprese must be eaten according to traditional recipes, purists can also appreciate that sometimes you need a little something to spice up a classic dish. There are plenty of recipes on the internet, and every Italian restaurant has its own take on caprese salad.
If you’re in the mood for the classic salad, but you’re not afraid of a little experimentation, head over to Vero Amore and check out our prosciutto caprese. It’s more of a salad in the American sense, with greens and dressing, but it pays homage to the delightful summer salad of Capri that we all know and love. Vero Amore’s caprese is full of homemade mozzarella and tomatoes that are grown locally year ’round – so feel free to keep enjoying year ’round!