Caprese Ciabatta

You may be familiar with Caprese salad – a classic Italian salad of sliced tomatoes and mozzarella (I said this before – when I say mozzarella, I mean real fresh mozzarella, not the white piece of plastic you find next to the cheddar in the grocery store – it may be sold as boccocini or buffalo mozzarella in the deli aisle) with basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This is basically that salad, stuffed into a ciabatta. Enjoy!

photoNo, seriously, here’s the recipe, for 2 people:

  • 1 ciabatta bread – make deep cuts every 1/4 inch or so, but don’t cut all the way through
  • 1 ripe tomato, in slices
  • 1 ball (can’t think of a better word) of mozzarella, in slices
  • fresh basil
  • 2 table spoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Add either a slices of tomato or a slice of mozzarella with a leaf of basil into each of the cuts of the bread. Drip balsamic over top, wrap in tin foil and grill for 10 minutes or until mozzarella is melted.

This could be served as an appetizer or a side – it was a late dinner for us after lots of snacking all day (did I mention hanging out at pools and on boats?), so this was a full meal for us. Enjoy!

 

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Healthy Pizza

Yes, you read that right – pizza from scratch is both easy and healthy if done right (read: whole wheat flour dough loaded with vegetables and real mozzarella). A note on mozzarella: what I call mozzarella is called boccocini or buffalo mozzarella here in Canada and is tasty and relatively low in calories and fat for cheese. What they call mozzarella here, we call plastic in Europe. Why would you eat that?
Now, I’m kinda lucky because I LOVE the taste if whole wheat dough – it’s sweet and chewy and so much more flavourful than its white counterpart. I say I’m lucky because life’s a lot easier if you naturally like what’s good for you and naturally dislike what’s bad for you. Now back to the pizza.
Making dough from scratch is much easier than most people think and if you don’t take the time it needs to rest and rise into consideration, it takes less time than waiting for your oven to heat up.
Dinner for 4:
For the dough:
Ingredients:
– 3.5 cups (500g) whole wheat flour (substitute for rice flour if you’re celiac, look up ratio for water – flour)
– 2.5 tsp salt
– 3 tsp (20g) yeast
– 2 1/4 (3 dl) water
– 2 tbsp olive oil
Direction:
In a bowl, mix flour and salt. Create a hole in the middle of the flour mix. Dissolve yeast in water, pour water/yeast mix and oil into the ditch. Mix and knead until smooth. It’s so therapeutic! Cover with cloth and let it sit for about an hour.
For the toppings:
The other great thing (other than being easy and healthy) about this recipe is that the variations are endless: vary your toppings and you’ll never get tired of it. Believe me, I tried! For this one, I used:photo(3)
– 1/2 zucchini, washed and sliced very thin
– a handful of mushrooms, washed and sliced very thin
– one pepper, washed and sliced very thin
– 12 cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in half
– 1 buffalo mozzarella
After dough has risen, pre-heat oven to 395 °F (200 °C). Roll out the dough on area with flour until about 1/4 inch thick (5mm). Put on parchment paper, then onto a baking sheet. Distribute vegetables and cheese, season with herbs if you like, and sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Vary vegetables, add tomato sauce, meats (ham, ground turkey) or tuna (sustainable dolphin
friendly, of course)  if you like and create your own favourite!

A few thoughts on Salad

I love salads. Which is lucky, I would be a lot less healthy if I didn’t. I often make a side salad for dinner and a few times when I had people over, they would ask me for the recipe. Thing is, I don’t have one. Which isn’t what people want to hear. And it’s certainly not ideal when you write a recipe blog.

Image Courtesy by Lavoview

Image Courtesy by Lavoview

My idea of a good salad is about the opposite of your average cafeteria salad. Quite frankly, I hate those: a few sad looking pieces of Iceberg lettuce (which is a great crunch adder for wraps, tacos or burgers but rarely makes it into my salads because it’s about as exciting as plain water on a cold day), topped with an insanely heavy dressing that has more calories than the daily special would have and if you’re lucky, a few shredded carrots. Thanks, but no thanks. How is that supposed to be healthy? Not to mention tasty..

My go-to is what I refer to as “discovery salads” and usually constitute of what I find – discover – in my fridge. Are you thinking, thanks, I could have figured out that one myself? Ok, here’s a very general recipe:

    • Basis: greens of some sort. I love Spinach, Butter lettuce, Arugula, or Romaine but choose what you like and can find. Mix if you like.
    • Vegetables: I frequently add peppers, cucumber (shredded or cubed), carrots (shredded or cubed), tomatoes and celery (sticks). A bit more special are beets or (mixed) mushrooms tossed in warm vinegar. Is cabbage a vegetable? Either way, needs to be listed too, so good.
    • Fruit and Berries: Apple and Pear (both either shredded or cubed) go verywell with most salads. Make sure you add it at the very end and sprinkle it with lemon juice because both oxidize quickly and look ugly. If you add fruit, leave out some of the veggies. Raisins or dried cranberries and fresh berries in the summer (Black-, Blue-, Straw- or Raspberries) also add some sweetness.

      Image Courtesy Felixco, Inc.

      Image Courtesy Felixco, Inc.

    • Protein: Sliced chicken (baked or cooked, seasoned if you like), canned tuna or salmon, eggs, Feta cheese, goat cheese, grated Parmesan. I would stick to one or two. Chicken goes well with any of the cheeses listed, fish well with eggs. Sliced Parmesan on Arugula with a simply olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dressing is one of my favourite salads.
    • Healthy fats: Avocado, seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin..) or nuts (almonds, cashews, pine, walnuts or your favourite). What’s delicious and super fancy tasting is if you warm up the nuts in a bit of water in a frying pan, add some brown sugar, cinnamon and cayenne pepper and stir over low heat until there is no liquid left, only gooey yummy sticky candy-like nuts.
    • Grains: quinoa, barley, couscous, even lentils, have made it into my salad bowl. De-li-cious. Where do chickpeas fit in? A must try!
    • Toppings: green onion, purple onion, olives, artichoke hearts, cilantro, parsley, mint, lime or lemon zest. I’d stick to one leafy topping per salad but it’s your choice.I personally absolutely detest cilantro but most people I know love it and think I’m crazy, so I felt compelled to list it.
    • Salad around the world: give it a South American feel by adding corn and black beans. Or Asian, with peanuts or sesame seeds and a soy sauce dressing. Please don’t be offended if you’re South American or Asian and think I’ve simplified things. I’m Swiss and people think all I eat is cheese and chocolate. And they are right. No, seriously, to me that tastes South American or Asian.

Obviously I never add everything I just listed, that would be quite ridiculous, but I encourage you to be creative and you’ll be surprised at what goes well together. Oh and check out these dressings to make any salad (even the one from your work’s cafeteria) more interesting.

What is your favourite creation?