This week’s Community recipes: Caprese salad or sandwich

As I continue my culinary vigil for the renewal of television’s most cutting-edge comedy (sorry, I mean television’s most streets-ahead comedy), I wish you all a happy four-day weekend.

Since last week’s episode was the first half of a multi-plotted, sandwich-laden, two-part adventure, I figured that a multipurpose recipe would be appropriate.

For me, the Easter weekend really signals the start of spring. And with that, my thoughts pass from the warm, comforting foods of winter to brighter, more refreshing things. A classic Caprese salad requires bocconcini, tomatoes, fresh basil, and a nice olive oil. I like to add a couple of things to round it out. First, the addition of balsamic vinegar adds both acidity and sweetness, which help to connect the flavours of the other ingredients. Second, arugula adds a peppery, bitter note which adds another level of freshness to the salad. It also hits a part of the palate left untouched by the other components, which has the effect of amplifying them.

The other great thing about this salad is that it makes a great sandwich. Simply layer the bocconcini and tomatoes on a baguette, add the basil and arugula, season with salt and pepper, and carefully drizzle a small amount of balsamic on top before closing the sandwich. For condiments, this sandwich just wants a little bit of mayo (or preferably a nice home-made garlic aioli). For a bit more of a kick, you can add some sliced red onions or pickled banana peppers.

Caprese salad

About a pound each of bocconcini (fresh mozzarella) and fresh, ripe tomatoes (either vine-ripened or else roma), each cut into ¼-inch slices

1 bunch of fresh basil (sweet Italian, not Thai), stems removed

3 cups (approximately) of fresh arugula

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper (coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper are best)

1 – Make a circle on the plate of alternating slices of tomato and bocconcini. Garnish liberally with basil leaves and fill the middle of the circle with arugula. Repeat for each portion.

2 – Season the cheese and tomato with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. That’s it! Leave the olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper on the table, as you may want to adjust the dressing of the salad while you eat.

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