I can’t focus on the food from Campania, (which includes the island of Capri), without mentioning the Caprese Salad. Insalata Caprese, means salad in the style of Capri. I can only assume that this salad originated in Capri, but no one truly knows. Since mozzarella and tomatoes are considered the best in this region, there’s no wonder these two star ingredients are married in this simple, and delicious dish. Together they are pure bliss.
What makes these ingredients so special? The volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius, the volcano that’s in the Gulf of Naples, makes for a rich soil that tomatoes thrive in. As for the mozzarella, it is made with buffalo milk, instead of the cows milk that’s used mostly in the States. This makes for a creamier, softer, lighter but stronger tasting cheese. Buffalo mozzarella is considered to be of highest quality.
Making mozzarella in Italy is a serious matter. There are strict regulations that needs to be followed. You may have seen the letters “DOC” on wine or even olive oil bottles. This means that the product is controlled by “Denominazione di Origine Controllata.” They insure that the highest quality product is produced at all times. Each product needs to be made in a specific region with special methods. Now, that’s what I call serious!
A Caprese salad is usually served with sliced mozzarella & tomatoes, with basil leaves tucked in between. In Diva’s version, I used what is know as campania tomatoes, which are smaller than a regular tomato, but bigger than a cherry tomato. (I found them in whole foods) I’m not in Italy, so I had to use the tomatoes at hand. I roasting them to made them sweeter, and they also burst in your mouth when bitten into. I also drizzled extra virgin olive oil & lemon zest, over the salad. In Capri, lemons are every where, so I wanted to incorporate them in the recipe. The lemon zest gave the salad a brightness that I love; just like Capri.
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