Actually, this salad can be as big as you’d like. The only “mini” about it is the size of the ingredients in the bowl. Usually Caprese salads are nice big slices of tomatoes and mozzarella alternating on the plate like a splayed deck of cards (ready for a fancy trick-pick a card, any card…um, queen of tomato?). But this one puts it all in a bowl in bite-sized pieces. You don’t need a knife to eat it (but a fork is useful).
I’m combining the usual Caprese ingredients–tomatoes, mozzarella, basil–with a couple of other ingredients that used to satisfy my after-school snack desires: shallot & dried oregano. A fav dish of mine in that nowhere time zone of school-day-done-and-dinner was cut up tomatoes, diced yellow onion, dried oregano, olive oil and salt & pepper. I can still wolf down that concoction without blinking.
Of course, you know what “Caprese” means? Capri. As in the isle of Capri. Off the coast of Amalfi. One of those wowza places that sings siren songs in your head unexpectedly (like when you’re eating cheerios for breakfast or walking in a parking lot or doing the laundry–events that have nothing to do with the isle of Capri and so that’s its magic: it shows up anywhere). I was just wandering that island last June. The streets were filled with tourists (doesn’t matter, it’s still phenomenal), the shops were dripping with everything you want to buy, the scenery takes your breath away so you have to stop to breathe every other step. On our approach to Marina Piccola by boat we slipped through the Faraglioni “rock islands” and felt like a visitor to another (beautiful) planet.
So if you’re from Capri, you’re Caprese. Tomatoes grow in the south of Italy, mozzarella is made in Campania, which makes this salad “Caprese.”
Here’s how I turn it into “mini”…
Cut up the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces:
Mince shallot (instead of my teenage-hood onion, much more subtle and gentle):
Use mini mozzarella balls (bocconcini)…and even these I cut in half:
Add fresh basil and/or fresh mint…I tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces:
Dried oregano for that “after-school” zing:
Drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper and you’re in the land of yum…(just shy of the Tyrrhenian Sea by a few thousand miles but your taste buds just might be fooled).