One of my favorite spring/summer time recipes is the basic “caprese salad.” A little mozzarella cheese, heirloom tomato, and large basil leaves, slap them together on a plate, throw on a little bit of balsamic vinegar and run to the dining room table as quickly as you can: it’s a delightful combination.
Recently, while planning dinner, I realized that I had some great ingredients to add a little variety to my basic caprese recipe: I had some tropical mangos and some avocado, I couldn’t think of anything better, so, direct from the Plum Deluxe Kitchen, here’s my Carnivale Caprese Salad.
Carnivale Caprese Salad
- Two mangos
- Two avocados
- Two large handfuls of fresh basil
- One package Bocconcini (bite-sized) mozzarella
- One pack cherry tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- One and a half cups balsamic
- One tablespoon honey
- One quarter teaspoon salt
Start with the balsamic reduction. For the balsamic, you want some mid-range tasty balsamic; if you don’t like the taste of it by itself, you definitely won’t like it when it’s reduced. In this recipe, I like mixing some regular balsamic with a raspberry–infused balsamic, but it’s up to you. Pour your vinegar into a small saucepan, and place on your stove on medium to medium-low temp, bring to a soft simmer; one trick is to leave the pan half on, and half off the burner, so the reduction doesn’t get too hot and scorch. If any film forms on your balsamic, scoop it off before serving. (Don’t lean directly over simmering vinegar or you’ll get a deep breath of vinegar — it’ll knock your socks off. Or so I’ve heard.) You’ll want your balsamic to reduce by about half by the end.
Peel your mangoes – the peels aren’t edible. Do your best not to cut too much into the flesh or you’ll lose out on some yummy goodness, but mangoes have a really hard center seed that can be difficult to cut around. Feel free to cut large strips, and then cut those strips into bite-sized chunks. Important: for this recipe, you don’t want the mangoes to be overripe or you’ll end up with mango mush in your delicious salad.
Peel and seed the avocados, then chop into bite-sized pieces. You don’t want everything to be the same size and cut, the size variety adds depth & texture.
For the basil, I like to cut the basil into strips, but feel free to have a little liberty here, if you like rough tear, have at it, if you like small strips, do it.
Cut the mozzarella and cherry tomatoes in half.
In a large bowl, add the mangoes, avocados, basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes, and toss gently – you don’t want to mash anything. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a small drizzle of your reduction to each individual serving, just prior to placing at the table.
If you’re hosting a dinner party buffet, another dish that makes a nice companion to this one is Pam’s Pineapple Pomegrante Salsa.