Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have always meant sumptuous feasting on rich and calorie-laden foods. The same thing goes for the coming New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebration. So, during the lull in-between these holidays, I decided to give my tummy a break and prepared something light and easy.
Besides tomatoes, one other thing I like and always have in the fridge is cheese. As soon as the Christmas leftovers were gone, I went to the supermarket to search for that perfect, sweet, and meaty garden tomato. And found it I did! The plan was to make Insalata Caprese not with the usual mozzarella but with tangy, creamy goat cheese. I’m sure many of you have made or eaten Caprese salad at least once before so I’m sure this isn’t new anymore. Still, let me share with you my fun time in the kitchen making this.
I like to prepare everything first so on the table sat the fully-ripened, juicy tomato, the slightly crumbly yet velvety goat cheese, and sweet basil. Each time I have any of my favorite herbs in the house, including fresh dill and rosemary, I often end up smelling them like I would inhaling eucalyptus balm. I inhale deeply and smile. I know it looks strange but I do get a high from this ritual, the good kind of high, of course. Nearby are extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. I love balsamic vinegar so I included that too.
I once used the basic Caprese salad ingredients as a base for a no-holds-barred concoction complete with minced garlic, sweet onions, capers, black olive, sundried tomato bits, cashew nuts, bell pepper, and mixed with butter oak lettuce. But that’s another story…and another salad altogether.
This Caprese is definitely a welcome respite from all that food. It’s filling but light and, most important, nutritious. Imagine the nutritional benefits present in this dish — potassium, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron, and Vitamin C.
It’s great with crostini or bruschetta on the side. Or, if you really must, you can get that whole slice of tomato and put it onto a lettuce-lined bread, along with the sweet basil and goat cheese and treat it as a sandwich. Pair it with you favorite wine and, presto, you have a mini-feast going on at lunch or dinner.