A caprese salad holds my heart in a way I cannot express. It’s a very simplistic Italian salad of fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, chunks of tomatoes and a drizzle balsamic vinaigrette. Very simple yet very delicious. It’s best when using good quality ingredients. If you’ve never had this salad, I recommend trying it at home sometime. It’s almost impossible to mess up and is filling and healthy all at the same time. I think it was in high school when I had a caprese “sandwich” for the first time. It was composed in a crusty ciabatta bun and was oozing with mozzarella. There was fresh basil, juicy tomatoes and a thick filet of marinated grilled chicken in between. It was divine. I had to make one at home. So I did just that. I might have been 16 at the time and my cooking skills were not near what they are today. Yet this sandwich was such an easy task I succeeded with flying colors. I’ve been making it ever since.
Over time I’ve changed a few things here and there… but the sandwich still takes me back to being 16 every time I make it. It’s so funny how food triggers a memory muscle and brings you back to a time long ago. The nostalgia that food brings on is something I never grow tired of. Some of my best memories are around the dinner table, so it’s fun to cook something that brings me back to those happy times.
This sandwich is totally meat free…but if you want to make this a bit more filling, try adding grilled chicken (or bacon!) to the center. I love to eat it either way. Chicken, bacon or totally meat free…it’s still going to rock your world, I promise.
CAPRESE GRILLED CHEESE
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
- 4 slices thick cut French bread
- 4 tbsp butter, salted
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced into rounds
- 1 large plum tomato, cut into thick rounds
- 2 cups arugula, lightly chopped
- Balsamic glaze
- Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- SPINACH & BASIL WALNUT PESTO
- Prepare the spinach and basil walnut pesto (link above in ingredients list).
- Preheat the oven to high broil.
- Heat a cast iron or non stick skillet to medium high heat and add in olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper each slice of tomato and cook for about 45 seconds a side. This will warm up the tomato and make it a little more soft in texture. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- Butter one half of each of the 4 slices of French bread. On the other side of the bread, spread a thick layer of pesto. Place each piece of bread butter side down in the same cast iron skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden and crisp.
- Transfer slices of bread to a baking sheet pesto side up. On top of the pesto, place fresh mozzarella on all 4 slices of bread. Put into the oven under the broiler. Broil in high until the cheese is bubbly and melted, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- To assemble the sandwich, place tomatoes down on top of the mozzarella. Put a handful of arugula on top of the tomatoes and drizzle on balsamic glaze. Place the other half of the French bread on top and drizzle with more balsamic glaze if preferred.
- Best enjoyed hot while the cheese is still melty.