Friday, July 19, 2013

Tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese

And olive oil.  Mustn't forget that.  My first Caprese Salad was made by a member of the Arles 6 gang during our 2008 reunion trip to southwest France.  We rented a house near Sarlat.  I found the house on the internet and it turned out to be just perfect.

Our house was part of an estate.

The owners invited us for drinks one night and told us the story of buying it.  Part of the deal was that the wife would rent out the "cottages" so that they could afford to live in the main house.  This was our neighbor across the street.

Pink roses were in bloom.

We ate very well.  Note the pot of basil decorating the table.

Arles Betty used the basil and olive oil for that caprese salad.  Why did it take me so long to discover such good eats?  Better late than never.  Mieux vaut tard que jamais as the Frenchies say.

Caprese Salad
from The Pioneer Woman (head over there for a real treat--  photos that look good enough to eat and Ree's commentary make it a very worthwhile read)

photo:  The Pioneer Woman
serves 8

2 c. balsamic vinegar
3 whole ripe tomatoes, sliced into slightly thick slices (see photo above)
12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced the same thickness as tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium-low heat.  (Keep an eye on it and stir so that it doesn't burn.)  Cook for 10-20 minutes, or until balsamic has reduced to a thicker glaze. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl or cruet.  Allow to cool.
Arrange tomato and mozzarella slices on a platter.  Arrange basil leaves in between the slices.  Drizzle olive oil on top of the salad, getting a little bit on each slice.  Do the same with the balsamic reduction. Store extra balsamic reduction in fridge for a later use.
End with a sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper.

The leftover balsamic can be used with this recipe I just came across and couldn't wait to try.  It involves some of my favorite things--



and grape tomatoes.

The recipe came from The Novice Chef, a blog I've recently discovered.  I really must work on my food photography.  These ladies put me to shame!  Their photos make me drool because the colors are so crisp.  Natural light is best and mornings are the best time... but I am only cooking this stuff at night.

Caprese Chicken
serves 4

4 skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
10 large basil leaves, minced
8 oz. fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced in 1/2-inch thick slices
Balsamic vinegar, to taste (you could make Pioneer Woman's reduction from above)

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts and set aside.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Add chicken, cover pan, and cook for about 10 minutes.  Flip chicken breasts and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked thoroughly (internal temperature of 165˚F).
While the chicken is cooking, in medium sauté pan over medium-high, warm remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Add garlic and cook for about one minute or until fragrant. (Be careful not to burn it.)  Add tomatoes and continue sautéing until tomato skins start to soften/wrinkle, 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in basil.
Once chicken has reached desired doneness, top each breast with 2 slices of mozzarella.  Pour tomato mixture on top.  Cover pan once more and let mozzarella melt.
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.

With a chilled dry rosé peut-être?  The BFF and I enjoyed this one a couple of nights ago at Foster's Market.

Read the label!

Eh non, I cannot resist posting Edith Piaf and La Vie en Rose...

Bon appétit, summer eating!  Drink pink!  Santé!

No comments: