Sunday, August 7, 2011

Recipe: Caprese-ish Salad

I’m calling it now. Crisped prosciutto is the new bacon. Does this mean it will end up covered in chocolate, stuck to the top of a maple-glazed doughnut, or even bottled as perfume? Probably not. Make that hopefully not. But it will definitely become my new go-to for crumbling on top of eggs, layering on a BLT (PLT?), and adding to anything that’s just begging for a bit of crunch and a touch of smoky flavor.

If you’re getting a little tired of the tried and true Caprese salad, this dish is a fantastic twist on the much-loved classic. What’s more, the addition of cannellini beans makes it hearty enough to stand alone. (Though it pairs particularly well with this chicken.) With the portions below you’ll likely have a bit of leftover salad, which makes for a great quick lunch. I took the chill off in the microwave, and the only thing that would have put it over the top was a poached egg. If you have leftover mozzarella, well, I can’t really help you there. Leftover cheese is a thing of myths in our apartment.

For those of you who still need a bacon fix, direct yourselves here. Better?

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 oz prosciutto (6-8 slices)
1 lb tomatoes (whichever variety looks best; I used Campari)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15 oz can white Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed  
Handful of fresh basil, chiffonaded
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Make Balsamic Reduction: Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until liquid is reduced by about half. (Time depends on the size of the saucepan; ours took 4-5 minutes.) Remove from heat to cool.

Crisp Prosciutto: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan over medium high heat. Add slices of prosciutto, being careful not to overlap. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until very crisp. Transfer first batch to paper towels to drain and repeat until all prosciutto is cooked.

Mix Salad: Slice tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds/juice. This will keep the salad from becoming watery. Then, cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a medium bowl. To the bowl, add garlic, cannellini beans, basil, 1 tablespoon of the reduced balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Crumble the crisped prosciutto over the other ingredients. Stir to combine. Taste the salad, and add more oil, vinegar, salt or pepper as needed.

Assemble: Cut mozzarella into thick slices and arrange on a platter. Top each cheese round with a scoop of the tomato salad, and finish with a flurry of torn basil.

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