This dish is what I call a ‘head slapper.’
As in, take the first bite then slap yourself in the forehead and say ‘why didn’t I think of this sooner?’
Then grab a bag of frozen peas for your head, and devour the rest of the plate.
Caprese Salad with Crispy Basil & Pancetta
(makes 4 – 6 appetizer size servings)
8 oz fresh mozzarella
2 ripe (yet firm) fresh large tomatoes
6 – 8 fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
6 paper thin slices of pancetta
Slice the tomatoes into 1/2″ thick slices and lay one slice on each salad plate. Slice the mozzarella into 1/2″ thick slices and lay one slice on top of each tomato.
Stack the basil leaves into a pile then roll them into a bunch and chiffonade (slice into thin strips). In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil to just shimmering. Add the sliced basil and cook for just a few minutes to crisp. Remove the crisped basil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Reserve the basil infused olive oil in a glass or ceramic bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
Stack and roll the pancetta slices in the same way you rolled the basil, then slice with a sharp knife or cut with kitchen scissors. Add the sliced pancetta to the hot saute pan and cook to crisp. Transfer to the paper towel lined plate and allow to cool to room temperature.
This is such a delicious twist on a classic summertime salad, and so freakin’ pretty. The crispy basil adds such an interesting textural element, and the flavor that’s infused into the olive oil is amazing. Don’t even get me started on the pancetta. If you have a summer party, bridal shower, baby shower or wedding in the works and you’re looking for an easy, yet impressive, salad or appetizer this might just be it.
Now, I’m off to make a t-shirt that says “cured meats cure me.”
Or something like that. 🙂