07 May 2013

Traditional Taste Sensations

There are some flavour combinations that have stood the test of time. Tried and tested, trusted, tasty.

Let's talk about this one: Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella.

What is it about this combination that keeps me coming back for more? Is it the sweetness of the tomato? The tang of the basil? The chewy mozzarella (or bocconcini)? I think it is, but in an "all of it together" kind of way. Add some garlic, olive oil, and/or balsamic and you're officially in "fast" food heaven. I mean it. It is fast when something works soooo well. Use it on top of bread, pizza dough, pasta, gnocchi or cous cous and you're pretty much a legend. I'm not even a vegetarian! Here, have some recipes, although they are so easy, I am blushing at the simplicity. Heaven... must be missing... three ingredients...

(Having Heirloom Tomatoes available at your local convenience shop definitely adds to the joy and amazement, I must say!)

Two Second Salad:

I was first introduced to this marvellous delicious rapid recipe on a Prix Fixe menu in a Café Roma or some such other generically named place in Paris. I am ashamed to say (I grew up in an Italian stronghold), I would never have thought to order Caprese Salad (that's right, it has its own Wikipedia page, three ingredients are a powerful thing) of my own accord. Truth be told I took one look and thought it was a rip off, but the second the flavour combination hit my tastebuds I was hooked!

Here's one I prepared earlier, for a Father's Day Feast last year:

1. Slice fresh tomato/es (or if using mini-Romas, grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, use halves)
2. Remove basil leaves from stalks (home grown is so satisfyingly fresh - I always keep some in a pot of "Sweet"/standard basil by the windowsill or on the balcony/courtyard near the door)
3. Slice fresh mozzarella - my favourite is buffalo if you want supercreamy or teeny tiny bocconcini if you're using teeny tiny tomatoes

Arrange on a plate in the above order.
Hey presto! Insalata!

(Dressing - optional - Drizzle over olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar and/or salt & pepper.)

Three Second Caprese Skewers:

Use the above combination on skewers for a fun and festive appetiser plate. Ideally use halved cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, halved bocconcini, then repeat. I drizzled over the dressing, but with a bit more thought I think a shallow saucer of dressing to gently dip/roll the skewers in on the side (much like satay stick sauce is often served) might work best.

(I served these up at the start of Christmas Dinner last year and they were eaten so quickly! I should definitely double the amount next time...)

Three step pizza:
(Pizza Margherita to her friends)

Use pizza dough/a pre-bought pizza base/pita bread with a topping of:
1. Tomato paste (I add a fine dusting of garlic and mixed herbs; sometimes pine nuts)
+/- optional fresh tomato slices or small chunks (5mm-1cm big)
2. Basil leaves - Large fresh ones if you can, store bought dried or squeeze tube if you can't
3. Shredded/grated mozzarella

Bake in oven, I usually go 200∘C for ten minutes (or as long as the top can take without going from browned to blackened). Then I eat. Omnomnomnomnom.

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