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VOL. 35 | NO. 26 | Friday, July 1, 2011

Why would Caprese salad not include goat cheese?

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My sister, who lives in Grand Junction, Colo., has been visiting for awhile. While she was here we did the typical thing most families do when relatives from another state come to stay – pack a lot of stuff into each day.

We didn’t break the mold; we went, did, saw and ate a lot, every day. But she went home with lots of memories, and left us with some just as well. Now that’s a vacation!

She stayed with my mom and fixed dinner. There were lots of fresh veggies just about every night, but every now we experienced a few of the restaurants around Little Rock. One of my favorite is Boulevard Bread, so we went there for lunch one afternoon.

I love the Caprese Panini there and, for some reason, no matter what else someone gets that looks yummy, I still always go for the Caprese Panini. I love the taste of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil together.

This brings me to my recipe, which is a Caprese-tasting pasta salad. It is a great summer salad that doesn’t take long and has some fresh veggies in it. You could always change this up some by adding some yellow summer or zucchini squash to the sautéing step, which I have done before, but it is good and easy just the way it is!

As I was wondering on what to write about, since I knew you really wouldn’t want to know every step my sister and the rest of the family did, I was studying the recipe and wondered why it is called Caprese. Ever wonder that yourself? I can help!

According to Wikipedia, there are numerous entrees for Caprese: Something of or pertaining to Capri; Caprese Michelangelo, a village in Tuscany; Insalata Caprese, a salad of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil; Torta caprese, a traditional Italian chocolate and almond or walnut cake. But, this did not satisfy my curiosity.

Moving on, I found recipes, images of several different salads, pronunciation helps and even a YouTube offering on how to make a Caprese Skewers, which I have also made before. They are so tasty!

Then I finally found what I was looking for. “Caprese” refers to something that comes from or is in the style of Capri, an Italian island off the coast near Naples.

Tourists know the island mostly for its villas, grottos and jutting limestone towers. Culinarily speaking, it’s best known for its namesake salad, the insalata caprese – fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

The name of the island comes from “capra,” the Italian word for “goat.” (In English, “caprine” refers to anything having to do with goats.) A real insalata caprese, though, is not made with goat’s milk cheese but with true Mozzarella di Bufala Campana – buffalo’s milk mozzarella made in certain designated areas of Italy, Naples included.

Well, that took care of the salad issue, but then I wanted to research the little Tuscan Village in Capri, the Caprese Michelangelo. Wow, now there’s a vacation spot! The images it brought up were so quaint and perfect looking, a beautiful little village surrounded by mountains. Sounds nice, huh? And not so hot!

But, until we can find the time, energy, and money to visit, I’ll stick with going to Boulevard Bread and depend on them to bring me a little taste of Tuscany! Enjoy the salad!

Capellini Caprese

1/2 lb. Angel Hair pasta, uncooked

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes

1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh Basil

Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook and stir two min. Add tomatoes; cook five min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta. Add to tomato mixture; mix lightly. Sprinkle with cheese and basil.

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