When you’re going Italian, nothing completes the experience better than by starting your meal with a fresh and beautiful Caprese salad. Each element is classically Italian; from the sweet and juicy tomatoes, to the mild and creamy mozzarella, and the quintessential basil leaves topped with balsamic vinegar. Giade De Laurentiis’ take on a Roman Caprese Salad, made with heirloom tomatoes, marinated olives, capers, fresh basil, and mozzarella balls, was a huge success and I was receiving compliments all night! Not to mention, it’s gorgeous!
For me, when I think Italian I think of Giada. Although she may not actually be the world’s best Italian chef, I like the creative spins she puts on her dishes. And her talent for entertaining guests by creating nutritious, yet appealing and decadent meals, is something that I’d like to be able to do one day! So when I had to think of an appetizer for our friend’s lasagna party, I decided to dig through her cookbook Happy Cooking.
I had been wanting to make one of her Caprese salads for forever, since Matt loves “tomato and mutz” and he calls it. However Matt also claims to not like olives, which are a central piece to her two recipes, so I had to wait for an occasion where there would be people with more sophisticated palettes.
Our friend was hosting a “lasagna and The Godfather” get together where she cooked boatloads of amazing lasagna (and eggplant parm for this pescetarian) and we all watched The Godfather. So I knew I wanted to bring an appetizer, but something that was lighter and fresher since we were all going to be eating our weight in cheese. So I had a perfect excuse to try one of Giada’s recipes!
I will say, I went wayyyy overboard at Whole Foods. I had been just waiting for a reason to use the olive bar (since, again, Matt refuses to eat them)! And even though her recipe said it would serve 4-6 people, I guess I didn’t believe her? So I ended up buying double of everything I needed (I literally spent $18 on heirloom tomatoes). So I got to enjoy it again for lunch today! But seriously, I’m so glad I went with the heirloom tomatoes, even though they’re crazy expensive. The flavor was so delicate and sweet and definitely made the dish! And the salty olives and capers on top were delicious with a drizzle of a tangy balsamic reduction. It was gobbled up in 5 minutes!
I used slightly less oil when I whipped this up, which is reflected in the recipe below.
Roman Caprese Salad (serves 4-6)
- 3 heirloom tomatoes
- 1 cup pitted marinated green and black olives, halved
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella balls
- 2 Tbsp capers
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 8 basil leaves, chiffonaded
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Black pepper
In a small saucepan, simmer the balsamic vinegar down for about 20 minutes, until it’s syrupy and about 1/4 cup. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes into semi-thick slices and arrange around a serving platter. In a large bowl combine the mozzarella, olives, capers, garlic, pepper, parsley, basil, and olive oil. Mix to combine. Spoon this mixture over the sliced tomatoes, then drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Garnish with additional basil. Yum!
*This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis’ Happy Cooking.