Fried Caprese Salad
- 4 vine ripened small tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons pesto recipe included
- 4 cups salad greens mizuna, arugula etc
- herb vinaigrette recipe included
- 16 mozzarella balls breaded, recipe included
- 2 tablespoons basil fresh
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves fresh
- 1 tablespoon rosemary tines fresh
- 1 tablespoon oregano leaves fresh
- 1 tablespoon vinegar good quality, sherry, champagne etc
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- to taste
- Bocconcini small mozzarella balls
- panko bread crumbs
- seasoned flour
- egg wash
- 2 cups basil leaves fresh
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano shredded
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
Alas, I feel the urge to once again wax poetic on food, as my body aches from fourteen hours at work. Upon sitting at my keyboard, I realize that two things must occur.
First, I must meagerly attempt to entertain yet perplex you with some culinary hokum. Secondly, I must go to sleep. I am growing to be an old man, unable to stay up much later, and certainly at the age at which I feel the strain of my efforts more than in my youth.
“Enough poppycock and balderdash!” says my beautiful wife, “we are only as old as we feel”. Verily, it is so, as it is with food. After many nights, days, weekends, evenings, holidays, articles, competitions and other absurdities in the food business, it is easy to lose sight of what food is and what it can be. It tends to grow stale, both literally and figuratively.
Throw in the concept of geography, and one has the recipe for the humdrums. As much as I love living here, I can’t help but to cynically comment that the holy trinity of Ocean City cuisine are stuffed flounder, prime rib, and crab cakes. I’m still convinced that, given the chance, a restaurateur could put crab meat in chocolate cake and they wouldn’t be able to keep it in stock.
But I digress. Ultimately, it is up to the cook to decide for themselves the whos, whats and wheres of his or her edibles. Of course, when you change things up, you may not sell much, but if you are careful and crafty, you may just find that things just fall into place.
I have written about the Caprese Salad on more than one occasion, in one instance addressing the simple aesthetics that make this such an amazing salad. Fresh tomato, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, freshly cracked pepper, and optionally, Modena Balsamic vinegar or its reduction.
Deconstructing this dish, we find that the components are the magic beans. Without one, the rest would pale on the dish.
So, taking this dish one step at a time, what happens if we fry the mozzarella instead of leaving them cold? Answer: You get an amazing contrast to the fresh and juicy tomatoes.
Taking the basil, what happens if we develop a much rounder flavor, accentuating the basil, but pronouncing it with the addition of toasted pine nuts and garlic? Answer: We are presented with a much fuller mouthfeel, one which leaves us entranced in the layers of flavors in these two seemingly simple components.
And to bring it all together, perhaps a non-traditional salad of greens tops it off to balance out the crispy cheese, the sweet-tart tomatoes and the mouth-mellowing pesto. And for this, a crisp high-acid wine would go incredibly well. I would recommend a Sancerre, chilled to about 50 degrees or cooler if that is your preference.
Of course, even a Pellegrino sparkling water would be a consummate pairing. I enjoy Pellegrino, as its perlage (the size and regularity or consistency of bubbles) is solid. To me, the carbonation cuts through any of the oil or fat and makes for a very pleasant experience. A tip though, just as you would not ice down your champagne, or at least I hope that you do not ice down your champagne, don’t ice down your sparkling water. It defeats the purpose.
So, regardless of any geographical presuppositions, culinary prejudices or regional biases, all one can do is cook good food for good times to be had by all. With a simple tweak an old recipe becomes new again; sometimes even better. And these advancements are what make cooking such an exciting hobby, craft, love and in the case of many chefs the world over, a beast of burden.
- Combine everything in a blender except for the oil
- Drizzle in the oil slowly and adjust the seasonings to taste
- Keep the bocconcini moist, and roll them in the seasoned flour
- Dip them in the egg wash and quickly move them to the panko bread crumbs
- Using a fair amount of force, squeeze the crumbs onto the mozzarella
- Re-dip in the egg wash and re-coat with the bread crumbs
- When all of the balls are done, set them aside until you are ready to fry
- Deep fry at the last moment and serve on your salad
- Place the ingredients, except the oil, in a food processor
- Blend the ingredients well, and slowly add the oil
- This will not be a true emulsion, but you should not have so much oil that there are pools in your pesto
- Season to taste