Caprese – Italian Tomatoe Salad with Fried Mozzarella, Basil, Pesto and Pine Nuts

This Caprese is summery goodness on a plate. The tomatoes are just too delicious this time of the year so it would be stupid not taking advantage of it. They are sweet and packed full of ripe tomato flavors. Sun-kissed tomatoes that are just bursting with lovely aromas – that’s unrivaled.

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This is my take on the immensely popular Italian tomato salad – Caprese. I recommend using a combination of different kinds of tomatoes since it gives the salad such complex flavors, and such nice looks. I mean food should both be appealing to eat, smell and look at. So go out in the garden or visit your local greengrocer and pick up some delicious tomatoes. Sweet ones, juicy ones, big ones, small ones, meaty ones, the ones on vine, red ones, green ones, orange ones, yellow ones and almost black ones – all of them are unique in their own way. To find out more about how different kind of tomatoes varies from each other click on some of the following links:

I think i improved upon the classic Caprese and I really hope you give it a go or make up your own version. I believe that even super classical dishes could benefit of an upgrade even though I’m uncertain of what the Italian grannies may think of that. They are used to do things in a certain way and have been doing so their whole lives; and here I come stating mine is better! I who have only been doing Caprese a few times. Sorry all Italian grandmothers! But maybe that what’s needed to altering a dish, someone who does things outside the box.

Regardless if the Italian ancestors like my twist on Caprese or not I like it. The key is the improved flavors and textures. The warm crispy and stringy fried cheese, the juicy sweet savory tomatoes, the fresh basil, the crunchy pine nuts and last but not least the pesto that’s packed full of Italian flavors. So yummy!

This dish is my contribution to Månadens Gröna (the veggie of the month) which this month is all about tomatoes.

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Caprese – Italian Tomatoe Salad with Fried Mozzarella, Basil, Pesto and Pine Nuts – 4-6 Starter/Buffet Servings

Ingredients:

400 g approx. tomatoes in different shapes and colors
125 g baby Mozzarella balls, drained weight (16 pieces)
Plain flour
1 egg
Panko
Neutral oil
125 g approx. pesto (go for the homemade one)
1 bunch basil leafs
Pine nuts
Salt

Preparation:

Start with the breading of the cheese. Drain the mozzarella and tumble the small balls in plain flour. Whisk one egg, a small drizzle of water and a pinch of salt together and cover the floured cheeses completely with egg wash. Transfer the Mozzarellas to a plate with panko bread crumbs and toss them around until completely covered. Dip in egg wash once again before covering in bread crumbs a second time. Put the breaded cheese on a tray and let set in the freezer. Since the balls are quite small they only require about two hours freezing time before frozen solid.

Roast the pine nuts on medium heat in a dry pan until golden brown. Add finely ground salt and set aside to cool down. Cut the tomatoes into chunks of different sizes and shapes (slices, wedges, cubes…). Place the tomatoes on one big plate or on a few separate ones, add a few generous dollops of pesto, some basil leafs and sprinkle with roasted pine nuts.

Heat a pan with neutral oil to about 200 degrees Celsius. Take the Mozzarella balls out of the freezer and fry in two batches for about a minute or until they turn crispy and golden. Flip the balls occasionally during frying to get an even cook on all sides. Let the excess oil drain off on a piece of kitchen towel and add some finely grated salt.

Place the Mozzarella alongside the tomatoes, pesto, basil and nuts and serve immediately while the cheese if still warm, gooey and melted.

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