I’ll admit up front that before I made this I’d never eaten caprese salad before, much less made it. When I found these aquaponic tomatoes at Nelson and Pade Aquaponics in Montello, Wisconsin this weekend, I just had to use them in a starring role. I vaguely remembered reading about reducing the balsamic vinegar, which makes it sweeter and a bit syrupy. Well, I may have reduced it a bit much because it was as thick as cold honey. I’d do it again in a second though because the flavor was outstanding. You can also make pretty designs with it on a white plate and it’ll stay put.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for this recipe to find or make a great fresh mozzarella. It’s imperative. I was lucky to find a weak and watery ball of Belgioioso up in Montello, but if I was home I’d have gone straight for the Crave Brothers mozzarella, which is much creamier, firmer, and flavorful. And can you imagine how pretty this would be made with heirloom tomatoes? However you make it, the results will be stunning; a feast for both the eye and the palate. Enjoy!
Caprese Salad with a Balsamic Reduction
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella
- 3 large tomatoes
- 1 oz. fresh basil leaves
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 oz. balsamic vinegar
- sea salt
- black pepper
- For the reduction: Bring vinegar to a gentle boil over medium heat and simmer without a cover for 15-20 minutes, until it becomes thicker and more syrupy. Keep in mind it will thicken up even more as it cools.
- While the balsamic vinegar is reducing, slice the mozzarella and tomatoes. Layer the cheese, tomatoes, and destemmed basil leaves as pictured.
- Drizzle olive oil over the layered tomatoes, followed by the cooled balsamic reduction. Sprinkle a few additional basil leaves for effect. Sprinkle sea salt and grind a little black pepper over it all.