Still under the Italian influence, this week I'll be looking at that delightfully fragrant herb, Basil.
Basil is a member of the mint family and is thought to have orginated in Africa and Asia, though some sources cite its home as India. Wherever it came from, it's now much loved throughout the world - its many varities finding a home in most cuisines.
Basil contains Vitamins A, B6, C, K and Folate, along with Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganeseum, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Riboflavin, Sodium and Zinc.
It is also mildly anti-inflammatory due to the presence of Vitamin K and Beta Carotene.
When I think Basil then I automatically think of its perfect marriage partner
Tomatoes - in this case, these lovely still on the vine cherry tomatoes from Sicily.
Now, when I think basil and tomatoes, then I must also include this
fresh Buffalo Mozzarella. Call it an side effect of going to Slow Cheese but I just can't resist indulging in these ultra fresh balls of buffalo milk Mozzarella. We do import some of these to Australia but with the amount of travel they go through, they can never be as fresh as the ones you can find here.
At Slow Cheese in one of our Taste Workshops they made mention that to have them at their peak they need to be eaten within 4 hours of their making. After that, they start to degrade.
Back to the ingredients, basil, tomato and buffalo mozzarella - there is one classic Italian dish that jumps out at you with those ingredients and it is the Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad).
I might well be provoking the wrath of the purists with this presentation but forgive me for my act of whimsy, while I make myself an Italian Flag Salad
Deconstructed Caprese Salad
ripe cherry tomatoes
fresh buffalo mozzarella
fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground salt and pepper
To make the best Caprese Sald you need the freshest ingredients and make it as close to serving time as possible.
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, if you are using larger tomatoes them either cut them into slices or small wedges. Arrange them on one side of your serving dish.
Pick the freshest leaves from the basil and arrange these on the other side of your serving dish, leaving a space in the middle.
Remove the buffalo mozzarella from its package and begin to tear into it - if it's fresh you should get a lovely milky liquid flowing from the tears. Place these rough shards of mozzarella into the centre of your serving dish.
Place at the centre of your table and allow your guest to reassemble the salad as they serve themselves, dressing it with the extra virgin olive oil and seasoning it to taste.
For those wanting to be part of this weeks WHB, remember the deadline is as follows:
3pm Sunday Utah Time, 11pm Sunday Florence Time and 7am Monday Melbourne Time.
Since I don't think I'll be posting the round-up at midnight you can probably extend those hours a little.
Please include a link to the announcement post and to WHB.
As usual, there has been a real smorgasbord of deliciousness flowing through my mail box so please join in and add your dish to the table.