Kitchen Herb Gardens and Insalata Caprese

Grow a kitchen herb garden in pots!
Fresh basil from my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Fresh basil from my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Herbs are Nature’s flavoring agents. Bet you know the unique and captivating fragrances of sage, basil, thyme, dill, or mint as you brush past the herb plants in your garden. Kitchen herb gardens are such a necessity for the home cook! Just a few pots of herbs, or even maybe a few acres if you have the land, will add delight to your recipes such as my favorite Insalata Caprese — Tomato and Mozzarella Salad.

Grow a kitchen herb garden in pots! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Last summer, I wrote a posting about kitchen gardens on my gardening blog “A Gardener’s Delight“. Be sure to check it out here!

The herb garden for the Palladio restaurant at the Barboursville Winery, in Barboursville, Virginia is one of my favorite herb gardens.

The kitchen herb garden at Palladio restaurant in Barboursville, Virginia (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

You can have your own herb garden at home. I grow my herbs in pots so I can bring some inside for the winter.

Insalata Caprese served with a nicely grilled steak that's topped with herb butter of herbs from the garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Insalata Caprese served with a nicely grilled steak that’s topped with herb butter of herbs from the garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

What’s better than a red ripe tomato and the fresh spicy taste of basil, both warm from the garden on a nice summer day? One of my absolute favorite recipes is so simple: Insalata Caprese. Try it with mini mozzarella balls, regular mozzarella balls or the decadent creamy whole burrata.

A whole creamy Burrata and Kumato Tomato halves drizzled with balsamic reduction and olive oil and finished with basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
A whole creamy Burrata and Kumato Tomato halves drizzled with balsamic reduction and olive oil and finished with basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

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From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

Insalata Caprese – Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad

For each serving:

One ripe tomato, sliced, or cut into wedges
Five small fresh mozzarella balls
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar (optional)
Sprinkled with finely chopped fresh basil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Assemble tomato and mozzarella balls on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic reduction. Sprinkle with fresh basil, salt, and pepper, and enjoy!

Insalata Caprese – Fresh mozzarella balls, ripe tomato, olive oil, balsamic reduction, and basil (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

You can make your own balsamic vinegar reduction. Pour a bottle of balsamic vinegar into a saucepan over low heat and simmer, stirring often. Let vinegar reduce by about half and thicken slightly. Vinegar reduction is “done” when it coats the back of a metal spoon. Be careful not to overcook or boil the vinegar reduction or it will caramelize and taste burned. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month in a sealed squeeze bottle or other container.

Or you can purchase balsamic reduction online or at your local grocery store.

I like to use the mini mozzarella balls, cut in half, along with halved orange-colored cherry tomatoes. Super sweet and wonderful!

Halved cherry tomatoes and halved mini mozzarella balls drizzled with balsamic reduction and EVOO and topped with basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Halved cherry tomatoes and halved mini mozzarella balls drizzled with balsamic reduction and EVOO and topped with basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

For a different presentation, you can use the larger mozzarella balls, cut into portions, and a mixture of smaller cherry and grape tomatoes (see below):

Insalata Caprese — Using the larger mozzarella balls and a mixture of cherry and grape tomatoes (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Mini mozzarella balls with cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and balsamic reduction and showered with a basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Mini mozzarella balls with cherry tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and balsamic reduction and showered with a basil chiffonade (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My favorite sage plant comes back year after year.

So tell me…what’s YOUR favorite herb?

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2012)

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