On the way home from our baby's ultrasound in June, my wife and I stopped by a little Italian restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, called Carmine's. We had just learned that we were having a baby boy and were very excited, and very hungry. While opening up the menu, my wife immediately saw that they had something called a Caprese Salad Sandwich. Knowing that I love Insalata Caprese, she pointed it out to me and I ordered it with a side of pasta salad. It was one of the best sandwiches I have ever tasted. And it's very simple to make. I just never thought of it before. So, one day in early August, I decided to recreate it for myself. My sandwich, surprisingly, turned out very good. I added 2 key ingredients, though, that I felt restaurant's sandwich was missing: A little bit of olive oil (if they had it on there, I couldn't taste it), and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.
For those who don't know, Insalata Caprese, or Caprese Salad, is a very simple salad that originated from the Italian island of Capri. It consists of tomato slices, alternately layered with slices of buffalo mozzarella cheese and basil leaves (torn or whole), drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with a little salt & pepper. I had it the first time I was in Verona, in 2002, and have loved it ever since. It can be used as an appetizer, as we did at our wedding, and goes nicely with a glass of Chianti. If you want me to post a step-by-step recipe of this, just let me know in the comments area. I make it a lot anyway, so it'd be no problem.
Below are the ingredients for the Caprese Salad Sandwich. This recipe is for one sandwich. You can double, triple, or quadruple the ingredients depending on the number of folks eating. But, you already know that.
1 ciabatta roll (I bought mine at Walmart. 2 slices of sour dough, or any crusty bread, can be substituted)
2-4 slices, large ripe red tomato
2-3 slices, mozzarella cheese
2-3 fresh basil leaves
2-3 teaspoons olive oil
Ground black pepper
Step 1: Cut the ciabatta roll in half and separate. Brush olive onto each half of the roll, on the cut sides. See photo below.
Step 2: Rinse and slice the tomato (about 1/4 inch thick) and place the slices on the bottom slice of bread. Sprinkle with a little pepper. You can add salt if you like, but I find that mozzarella has plenty of salt in it already. You can also drizzle a little more oil onto the tomatoes.
Step 3: Slice the mozzarella cheese (also, about a 1/4 inch thick) and layer the slices on top of the tomatoes.
Step 4: Rinse the basil leaves and gently pat dry with paper towels. Pull the leaves off the stems and layer the leaves on the mozzarella.
Step 5: Top with remaining bread slice and cut the sandwich triangularly.
The sandwich goes great with a side of pasta salad, an olive medley, or old fashioned potato chips.
As with all the recipes I post, feel free to tweak them, modify them, and make them your own. Try adding a pinch of garlic powder to the oil, or a little red wine vinegar to the tomatoes, etc.
Also, I strongly recommend Carmine's Restaurant. I give all credit to them. They also make great Philly Cheese Steak and French Dip sandwiches. I'll post directions to the restaurant in the comments area, if requested.
So, I guess that does it with the tomato and basil recipes, unless I get a request to post the Insalata Caprese step-by-step recipe.