This combo doesn’t get any better. I promise you. Unless, I used Burrata instead of fresh mozzarella, but I didn’t want to get completely wild. That could be mildly inappropriate for this blog.
But seriously, I debated it. This local Enoteca down the street makes the BEST Burrata plates, with prosciutto, heirloom tomatoes, aged balsamic, shaved parmesan, all surrounding this big honking ball of cream-filled mozzarella–aka, Burrata.
Oh my, please excuse the tangential rant. The sensory cortex of my brain just ran wild with the thought of Burrata cheese on this Caprese salad. Next time, my friends, next time.
Oh and this aged balsamic is unlike any you will find in these parts of the woods (and by “woods” I really mean the beach, since I don’t live anywhere near the woods). No this stuff is straight up imported especially from Modena, Italy. Larry was kind enough to share his loot. I sure scored, big-time.
True aged balsamic, isn’t watery or bitter but it’s thick, syrupy and sweetly tangy. It is a little bit of heaven, if you will. It is like a fine wine: grown, harvested, pressed, and aged in particular wood barrels for years to mature to the desired taste and consistency.
Here, Let me show you. Notice how the barrels from left to right, gradually get smaller in size? At a certain time of the year, one batch gets moved to the next barrel, which is smaller because some of the balsamic evaporates in the process, causing the consistency to become thick and rich.
When I went Balsamic Tasting in Modena a few years ago, I had learned that some balsamics are aged for up to 75 years! If you are thinking “whoa, no way” to that, maybe I will just not tell you how many Euros that little bottle of joy is sold for…this proves my “balsamic is like a fine wine” theory.
Yes, the little bottle in the fancy satin-lined case is the 75-year aged balsamic. I was scared to even touch it…
Mix together the pesto and the quinoa to make, you guessed it, pesto quinoa!
Meanwhile, slice your tomato and cheese.
Spoon the pesto quinoa onto the plate, as the base of the salad. Do I dare mess with a perfectly good Caprese? Well, I did so in the name of good grains and extra flavor.
So, sue me.
Sneak on a nice drizzle of balsamic. Dust with salt and pepper. Then, keep piling on the goodies.
Prosciutto, parmesean shavings, and of course, another liberal drizzle of balsamic.
There you have it folks. A kicked up Caprese salad resting atop a hearty serving of good grains.
I almost second guessed myself as I was shaving on some parmesan cheese, wondering why I was adding more cheese when there were thick slices of fresh mozzarella just a few layers deeper. Well, I have never been so sure of anything in my life. The parmesan and the prosciutto add a great depth of flavor to the usual simple dish.
2 Tsp of pesto, more if desired
1 cup of cooked quinoa
Mix the two ingredients together, top with shaved parmesan cheese and enjoy! Or use to include in the Caprese Salad recipe (below).
Aged Balsamic Caprese Salad over Pesto Quinoa:
serves 2 people as an entrée or side-dish
1 cup of pesto quinoa (recipe above)
4 thick slices of a large vine-ripened tomato
4 slices of fresh mozzarella
4 fresh basil leaves
2 slices of prosciutto, torn into smaller pieces
Parmesan shavings for topping
Aged balsamic, for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
**Little Yellow note: I made a slightly smaller portion of this recipe for myself, which is what is pictured.
Prepare the pesto quinoa and spoon onto the bottom of a large plate. Add a layer of sliced tomatoes, then mozzarella and basil leaves; dust with salt and pepper. Add the torn prosciutto slices and parmesan shavings. Finally, top by liberally drizzling the finest aged balsamic vinegar that you can get your hands on! Enjoy this dish as an entrée or a nice summery side-dish.
From the Little Yellow Kitchen,