5.27.2012

Caprese Napoleon




I have a strange fascination with Italian food. I have not one ounce of Italian blood in my body, but my boyfriend swears you would think otherwise by looking at half of the dishes that come out of my kitchen. Whether its pesto, red sauce, fresh pasta, antipasto, or amazing wine and cheese; my fixation knows no bounds. Caprese salad is a staple in any Italian meal, and it is one of my absolute favorites.
The basic ingredients being perfectly ripe tomatoes, freshly made mozzarella, and a few leaves of fragrant basil. I decided to make the original dish a bit more interesting by creating a fresh basil and walnut pesto. 
Caprese Napoleon
Yields: 4 Servings
Ingredients:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 log mozzarella
4 large tomatoes
3 ounces Parmesan
1/2 cup walnuts
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
Directions:
Using a small sauté pan over low heat, toast the 1/2 cup of walnuts for five minutes, tossing every minute or so. Meanwhile, finely dice one garlic clove. Roughly chop 3/4 of the basil that you purchased (about one and half cups). Grate the parmesan cheese until you have about 1/2 cup. Combine the basil, garlic, walnuts and cheese in a food processor. Turn the food processor on and slowly add the 3/4 cup of olive oil through the tube as it’s processing. The pesto should be smooth, but should still have some texture from the ingredients. Taste it for proper seasoning at this point, add salt and pepper as necessary.
Begin by slicing the ripe tomatoes around their “equator” into half-inch slices. Next, slice a log of fresh mozzarella width-wise into half-inch slices. Take 10 leaves of fresh basil and stack them on top of each other facing the same direction. Roll the basil leaves. Slice the roll of basil carefully, make about eight cuts down the roll.
To present the dish, start by stacking the tomatoes and mozzarella in the middle of the plate (seasoning each with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil as you stack them) one on top of the other until you have four slices of mozzarella and three slices of tomato. Place the basil chiffonade on top of the stack. Finally, drizzle the pesto around the outside edges of the plate.

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