This salad from the island of Capri boasts basil, said to stimulate the sex drive, and plump ripe tomatoes (not called "love apples" for nothing). When you make this salad for your beloved, your fate will be sealed on the spot. They will forever be putty in your olive oil-smeared hands.
The centerpiece of the salad is, of course, mozzarella cheese. Maria Ercolano, who was originally taught by her mother, Margherita Ferraro, and has been making mozzarella for decades, showed me how to make fresh mozzarella for this dish. I realize that not many people can or want to make their own mozzarella, but learning how did teach me to savor the subtle nuances of the cheese. Using my Super Olive Oil allows the dish to be more about the taste of the mozzarella than a vehicle to carry the flavor of the olive oil.
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, herloom if possible
- freshly ground black pepper
- 6 Ounce fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 12 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces, stems removed
- 4 Tbsp Super Olive Oil
Slice the tomatoes into 16 even 1/2-inch-thick slices. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Top each with a slice of mozzarella, then season again lightly with salt and pepper.
Arrange 4 tomato and cheese slices overlapping on each of 4 small salad plates and scatter the basil on top. Drizzle each plate with 1 tablespoon Super Olive Oil.
Tip: Look for mozzarella made from cow's milk known as flor di latte. In Sorrento this is all they use and after comparing to buffalo milk I understand why.
Under- or Overripe Tomatoes? If you don't have super-ripe tomatoes, don't fret -- the true cheese connoisseurs of La Sorgente prefer slightly underripe tomatoes so the juice stays in the tomato and not on the plate, and underripe tomatoes provide a nice acidity that complements the dense mozzarella.
Check out the video playlist above to watch Rocco make this recipe and to learn how to make his Super Olive Oil.
In "Now Eat This! Italy," watch New York Times best-selling author and celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito as he travels to Italy to learn how to make all our favorite Italian dishes from the real Mamas of Italy like lasagna Bolognese with Lucia Ercolano, Spaghetti Vongole with Daniella Miccio and Insalata Caprese with Maria Ercolano. In this unique intersection of travel, adventure, culinary and healthy Rocco answers the question, "Can you eat pasta and lose weight?"
Produced: 2013 By: Savory Place Media