This salad resounds with the intense fragrances and flavors of southern Italy. It's a new take on an old favorite. Thick-sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and basil are spiced with a mixture inspired by the Arab influences in southern Italy. Spoon between the slices a blend of toasted pine nuts, onions, currants, and garlic spiked with fresh lemon juice and hot pepper. The tomatoes and mozzarella foil these new tastes beautifully.
Have the salad for supper and for buffets. Use a fresh milky-tasting mozzarella packed in liquid, along with good-tasting ripe tomatoes.
Wine Suggestion: A young Puglia rosé like Alezio Rosato, Copertino Rosato, or Brindisi Rosato.
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch hot red pepper flakes
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 tablespoon currants
Salt to taste
2 tightly-packed tablespoons fresh basil, torn
7 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Tomatoes and Mozzarella:
6 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, sliced vertically about 1/2-inch thick
3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, packed in liquid, sliced 1/2-inch thick
About 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, garlic, the two peppers, onion, currants and salt to taste. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes. Just before assembling the dish, stir in the basil, and all but 1/2 teaspoon or so of the pine nuts.
2. Alternate slices of tomato and cheese on a plate, lightly seasoning each tomato slice with a little salt. Sprinkle each mozzarella slice with a teaspoon or so of the onion mixture and sprinkle it with about 1/2 teaspoon pine nuts. Sprinkle the entire dish with the olive oil, and any leftover pine nuts and onion mixture. Serve at room temperature.
From The Italian Country Table: Home Cooking from Italy's Farmhouse Kitchens by Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Copyright 1999 by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
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