Friday, September 23, 2011

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

This might be my favorite salad of all time.  It's so simple, yet delicious and beautiful.  As for the balsamic reduction.  I usually just make a big batch for a couple reasons ... 1) It shrinks down a ton, so it's always less than you expect. 2) It takes awhile, so you may as well make extra and keep some in the fridge. 3) It's so yummy that you'll find yourself putting it on all kinds of things: salads, burgers, in dipping oil, etc. The Caprese salad is gorgeous in red, green, and white ... just like the Italian flag.  

Here's what you need: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt/pepper, fresh basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.  Fresh mozzarella is tastiest, but it's more expensive.  You're choice!

The only thing you need to do to prep is chop your basil, slice tomatoes and cheese.  For the balsamic reduction, pour a hefty amount (no specific measurement) of vinegar into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  But trust me and do more than you think because it shrinks.  Mine was probably an inch deep in the pan and when it was done, it barely covered the bottom of the pan.   

Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Give it a periodic stir and breath in to clear your sinuses!  Also you may find yourself crying for no reason. Don't worry, it's just the fumes!  They get pretty wild.  Hopefully you don't have any random visitors show up, they will wonder what the heck is going on.

Continue to simmer (not boil), until it begin to thicken.  It will stick to your spoon when it begins to get there.  It won't quite be syrup-like, but it will achieve this upon cooling.

This is how it should run off the spoon.  (Notice the pretty bowl I got at the Boise Farmers Market)
Now arrange your salad so it looks like a lovely Italian flag, then drizzle with olive oil, salt/pepper and your cooled balsamic reduction.  Which arrangement do you like better?
Bon appétit!

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