No matter how many Italian appetizers you have ordered or created, you can delight yourself and dinner guests with simplistic ingredients and bold flavors when presenting a Caprese salad. This traditional Southern Italian antipasto combines fresh ingredients and herbs of the Campania region. The balsamic reduction offers a sweet flavor that pairs well with the acidity of the tomatoes. Caprese salads provide a heartier first course than green salads and can be shared family-style for a true Italian dining experience.
Chop one clove of garlic with a serrated knife. Place the blade of the knife flat against the chopped garlic pieces and press down to crush the garlic with the serrated edge.
Boil 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan on medium-high heat, whisking throughout the boiling time until it reduces to about 1/2 cup. Add crushed garlic, simmer and whisk the mixture on a low heat until the mixture resembles the consistency of syrup.
Remove the balsamic reduction sauce from the heat and cool it at room temperature until ready to serve.
Place 3 vine-ripe tomatoes horizontally, cutting them into circular 1/4-inch thick slices with a serrated knife. Slice a 1-lb. ball of buffalo mozzarella into 1/4-inch thick circular slices.
Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices on a flat dish. Alternate each ingredient to create a linear or circular presentation or stack the mozzarella slices on top of the tomatoes.
Cut and remove the stems of one bunch of basil leaves. Rinse the leaves under cold water in a colander to remove dirt. Pat the basil leaves dry with paper towels. Disperse the basil leaves on top and around the tomato and mozzarella slices.
Drizzle the balsamic reduction on top of the Caprese salad with a spoon. Season the salad with salt, pepper and olive oil, if desired.
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