Insalata Caprese- a dish hailing from la isola di Capri in Italy. Representative of the Italian flag, we are offered deep green hues of basil, a vibrant red of tomatoes, and the white mozzarella within a caprese salad. After reading about the history of the caprese salad in Italy, many authors have made it clear that your traditional caprese consists of fresh basil, freshly ripened tomatoes, and mozzarella made from buffalo milk, along with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Growing up in America, I was introduced to the traditional form of insalata caprese, but also the more Americanized forms of it– aka adding some balsamic vinegar, olives, and/or garlic to the mix. My mother taught me the quick panini trick on the stove to create a perfect caprese sandwich; place some fresh basil from the garden, mozzarella, and tomatoes on two pieces of ciabatta with a dash of balsamic vinegar and cook in an olive oil-laden pan, covered, on the stove for 5-10 minutes. Thank you, mom, for teaching me how to create this simple, but delicious dish.
For my Bloody Mary of the week, “From the Beaches of Capri,” I would say “I got it from my mama,” while indeed incorporating the Americanized form of the Insalata Caprese into this modern cocktail. I sought to use balsamic vinegar in place of Worcestershire sauce when preparing the mix, along with adding fresh basil and garlic to fuse into the mix over the course of 48 hours. The result was a deep taste suited for a lunch cocktail or after work refreshment, as these flavors sing “later in the day” as opposed to the usual Bloody Mary breakfast or lunch. If you want a lighter flavor, I recommend using less balsamic vinegar than noted in my recipe. I also used a new tomato juice in my mix– R.W. Knudsen & Family’s organic tomato juice– that I have not used before. It was a nice switch up from my usual Campbells-based mix. Also, big thanks to my lovely friends Morgen and Marli for helping me craft this idea!!!
- 3 ½ cups (28 oz) tomato juice
- 1 lemon squeezed
- 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped into small pieces (if you do not have access to fresh basil, I would recommend using 1/2 -1 tbs of dried basil)
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 mozzarella ball (I dipped mine in balsamic glaze)
- 1 grape or cherry tomato
- 1 fresh basil leaf
- 1 kalamata olive
- 1 little piece of ciabatta bread toasted with olive oil and garlic salt
- Dried basil (to rim the glass)
- Garlic salt (to rim the glass)
Preparing the Mix
- Pour the tomato juice into a sealable container. I used my favorite whiskey decanter, which I am sure you have seen in some of my other recipes.
- Add the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and garlic salt. Mix all together.
- Toss in the minced garlic and fresh basil leaves. Mix all together.
- Seal the decanter and let sit in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
Day Two/Three (Depending on how long you want to infuse your mix)
Constructing the “From the Beaches of Capri” Bloody
- Put some olive oil and garlic salt on the ciabatta bread and toast it in a toaster oven or regular oven.
- Place the toasted ciabatta bread, fresh basil leaf, tomato, mozzarella ball, and kalamata olive onto a cocktail pick.
- Run a lemon wedge over the rim of a highball glass, then rim the glass with a mixture of the dried basil and garlic salt.
- Fill the highball glass half full with ice.
- Pour 1.5-2 oz of vodka into the glass.
- Place a strainer over the glass and pour the mix from the decanter through the strainer and into the glass. This will ensure that the basil and garlic is not poured into the actual Bloody Mary.
- Place the cocktail pick with all of the garnishes horizontally on top of the glass.
- Enjoy your Bloody Mary from la isola di Capri– “From the Beaches of Capri!”