There’s something so wonderful about the simplicity of a Caprese Salad. This Salad is usually comprised of Tomato, Mozzarella Cheese and Fresh Basil. I decided to take mine to the next level by adding Roasted Asparagus, Pancetta and a Balsamic Reduction. The most important part of a Caprese (in my opinion), it getting the freshest and highest quality ingredients. This is not the time to buy Polly-o Mozzarella…get the good stuff! And use fresh basil (I started growing basil in my apartment for moments like this!) Also, make sure you get a good batch of tomatoes…. I don’t think there’s anything more disgusting than biting into a mealy tomato.
I had a few other ideas on how to amp up this salad - I was going to alternate in with the tomatoes and mozzarella, some thin sliced, fried zucchini slices (however, I couldn’t find zucchini at the store yesterday - wtf).
Some other ideas:
- Alternate Proscuitto, Pepperoni or Sopresatta in with the Mozzarella and Tomatoes
- Try my Parsley Oil (recipe below) to drizzle on top
- Fry up some thin slices of Eggplant to add in there
Caprese Salad with Pancetta and Asparagus
- 1 Pound Asparagus (2" of the non-floret ends, cut off)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 4 oz Pancetta (cut into 1/4" cubes)
- 2 Tomatoes (sliced into 1/4" slices)
- 8 oz Fresh Whole Milk Mozzarella (sliced into 1/4" slices)
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. on a sheet tray lined with a silpat, lay out your asparagus. Toss with Olive Oil and a generous amount of salt. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes - shaking the tray every 15 minutes.
- While your asparagus are baking, make your balsamic reduction. Place your balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until it's reduced by at least half (about 10 minutes). Turn off the stove and allow to cool in the pot. Next, in a small saute pan, cook your cubed pancetta until nice and crispy. Drain on a towel lined plate.
- To assemble: Lay down your roasted asparagus. Arrange your tomato and mozzarella slices in an alternating pattern - drizzle a little Olive Oil on top. Drizzle your balsamic reduction over the top with a spoon. Sprinkle Pancetta all over and then add your basil to garnish.
Yields 1 cup of Parsley Oil
- 2 Cups Parsley (mostly leaves but some stems are ok)
- 1/4 Cup Salt
- 2 qt Water
- 1 1/2 Cups Canola Oil
- Bring water and salt to a boil. Place your Parsley Leaves (with some stems) into a small sieve. Once your water comes to a boil, immerse your parsley into it for 15 seconds. Remove and place directly in an ice bath.
- Remove parsley from ice bath and squeeze out all water. Place half the parsley into the blender and cover with about 1 cup of Canola Oil. Blend for 30 seconds. Add in the rest of your parsley and another 12/ cup Canola blend for 1.5 minutes.
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a container, and let slowly drip. Do not stir the herb, they will cause the oil to be cloudy. Place the strainer and container in the fridge and let drip a few hours.
- Discard of solid in strainer and only use the oil that dripped into your container. Place in a squirt bottle for easy and decorative usage.