I went on a Caprese Salad binge after returning from Italy – SO much bocconcini! I’ve ordered it from many restaurants since, and it always tastes different from the last. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way: 1. invest in a ‘good’ bocconcini – want creamy, not chalky (or try avocado); 2. use fresh, semi firm, tomatoes – I like Roma and even young/small Heirlooms; 3. fresh basil – either in pesto or as a whole leaf; 4. don’t be afraid to season – salt & pepper. We’ve adapted my craving for this super easy, tasty, salad by adding Butter Lettuce ‘cups’ and Avocado slices. And to top it off…a little balsamic reduction. Yum. Anyone else return from a trip totally hooked on international eats?? Ahh, so good.
- 1 butter lettuce - rinse & remove lettuce leaves *cups as needed; smaller leaves work well
- 2-5 roma or small heirloom tomatoes - sliced about 1/2cm thick
- fresh pesto - as needed
- 4 units (200g) fresh bocconcini - sliced about 1/2cm thick
- 1-2 ripe avocados, peeled - cored, & sliced into wedges
- balsamic reduction
- sea salt + pepper
- 1&1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup fresh parmesan-reggiano, grated
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil - add more if needed; don't want too dry or too wet
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
Place the butter lettuce cups onto a plate. Next, take your sliced tomatoes and use a knife to spread on a 'healthy' layer of fresh pesto. Place the tomato/pesto slice onto the middle of the lettuce cup. Top each tomato with a slice of fresh bocconcini and/or avocado. Add a pinch of salt + pepper to each lettuce cup and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Enjoy.
Add the basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, and sea salt into a food processor. Turn on high and slowly add the olive oil. Blend until well combined and/or fine grain-like in texture. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. Good for 5-7days or freeze for up to 2months.
In a small pot over med/low heat, bring the balsamic vinegar to a gentle boil. Continue to 'gently' boil/simmer until the vinegar has reduce by nearly half. It should be syrup-like - dip a small metal spoon into the reducing vinegar and watch how slowly it runs off. Allow to completely cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
~Tip...I like to reduce my own balsamic vinegar as the bottled options contain added sugar - much sweeter.