In the dog days of summer, the humble Caprese turns up the flavor without weighing you down.
The Caprese sandwich originates, of course, from Italy’s azure isle of Capri, epicenter of sunbaked la dolce vita lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Representing the patriotic colors of the Italian flag, the name literally means “Capri sandwich.” The masterpiece is created with cheesy pesto, zesty Roma tomatoes, sharp basil, tangy balsamic, and the freshest mozzarella to be found, all drizzled with the nectar of the gods: extra virgin olive oil.
While also evident in salads and even pizza, the Caprese’s key ingredients are the epitome of a light, refreshing summer meal. Pleasing to vegetarians, yet substantial enough to satisfy the most savory of carnivores, the flavors meld and bind together into a mouthwatering flavor explosion featuring the best of high summer’s produce.
Perhaps the best way to enjoy the Caprese, and la dolce vita, is by having it like the Italians, alfresco. You can’t really go wrong by DIY’ing this one, the earlier you make it, the better it will taste, as all the flavors have a chance to mix and mingle.
Pack one for a picnic, and slice according to everyone’s appetite. Your guests will be wowed when it’s time to chow down, and you can reply with your best world-weary shrug a′ la Marcello Mastroianni with, “Caprese? So easy.” Mangia!
Picnic Caprese (Recipe)
1 extra large loaf of bread or baguette (semi-soft bread like focaccia works well)
Pesto sauce (preferably freshly made)
10 fresh small tomatoes (preferably San Marzanos), sliced
10-12 fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and torn
1 10 ounce ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Split the baguette lengthwise, spread pesto on bottom half of loaf, top with tomato slices, mozzarella, and basil, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a touch of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Press baguette firmly and wrap in plastic. Let sandwich sit, refrigerated, for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. When ready to consume, slice and serve.
What’s your favorite sandwich of the summer? Let me know in the comments below!