Green Tea and More...

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Be Healthy. Be Green.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

EAT: Basil, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad

I don't know about you, but I have had a bumper crop of basil this year. In fact I have more basil than I know what to do with. I mean how much pesto can I make? Well, quite a bit actually because I can freeze it in ice cube size portions for winter meals, but fresh basil? I saw this salad while poking around the on internet and decided to give it a try.

The balsamic gives the cucumber slices an unappetizing brown color, but don't let the picture fool you. As a small side salad it's quite tasty, as a meal by itself? Not so much. It needs the olives and crackers (you could substitute freshly baked breadsticks--stay tuned for my breadmaking efforts), but the hard boiled egg is optional. The olives give it some zing and complement the balsamic vinegar while the crackers add some crunch or chew if you substitute the breadsticks.

To make the salad:

1 cup Basil leaves, shredded (no stems)
1 Cucumber, peeled, cut in half, and seeded
1 pint of Grape or Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

EAT: Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad (Insalata Caprese)

I've been eating this tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad for years. I made it up myself, but like most recipes it's not original or unique. In fact, it's a popular salad in Italian cuisine, and goes by the name of insalata cuprese. It's really tasty and heart healthy, plus it's a terrific way to use up those tomatoes that are now ripening in the garden.

This year I grew grape tomatoes so I used some of them in the salad, but plum tomatoes also work just fine. Like most of my recipes, the quantities and measurements are somewhat imprecise.

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad (Insalata Cuprese)

3 to 4 sprigs of fresh basil leaves
8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Grape or Plum Tomatoes (they're less juicy), sliced
2 to 3 Garlic cloves, crushed
Olive oil
Thyme sprigs for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

The salad is made in layers so you can use a regular dinner plate, glass pie plate, or other shallow glass baking dish. The first layer is basil leaves, the second layer is mozzarella, and the third layer is tomatoes. Crush the garlic cloves in a garlic press and sprinkle over the salad. Next, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil. Garnish with sprigs of thyme, basil, or oregano and add salt and pepper to taste.

What's nice about this salad is that you can layer it any way you want. If you want tomatoes on the bottom and basil on the top, no problem. You can also eat the salad straight away (especially in the summer) or let sit at room temperature for several hours (better for winter). You can also cover it and place in the fridge overnight to eat the next day, but take it out an hour or so before serving so that it's room temperature. The reason for this is that the flavors are enhanced at room temperature.

Buon appetito!

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