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Arsenio in the kitchen: Insalata Caprese

Today is the 2nd of June, the ‘Festa della Repubblica’ for Italians and a national holiday. It commemorates the institutional referendum of 1946. Italians had to vote to decide the form of their government after World War II. They chose to be a republic with a constituent assembly and sent their monarchy to exile.

What better day to share that most patriotic of salads, the Insalata Tricolore or Insalata Caprese, that reproduces the colors of the Italian flag; green, white and red.

The origins of this “recipe”, if we can call it that, are on the island of Capri, hence the name. One story is that a builder was the first person to assemble these three ingredients as a homage to the Italian flag. Another story is that in the 1920s the Hotel Quisisana included a new dish on its menu in order to please the futurist poet, Marinetti, who did not enjoy traditional Italian dishes.

However it came into being, Insalata Caprese is here to stay.

Like so many Italian dishes, the secret is the simplicity and quality of ingredients.

Tomatoes. Mozzarella. Basil. Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sea-salt.

Insalata Caprese is best prepared in summer when tomatoes are at their ripest. It is important that they are at room-temperature or, better still, sun-warmed or plucked from the vine.

The quality of the mozzarella makes or breaks this dish. Ideally it should be made with fresh buffalo mozzarella.

Strew liberally with fresh basil and a scattering of salt.

Last but not least, a generous pour of Di Moraiolo Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The basil and minty notes typical of this cultivar resonate with the fresh basil while the characteristic and enjoyable bitterness of this oil is perfect with the sweetness of the tomatoes.

Forza Italia!

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