The first time I had a traditional Caprese salad was the same night I had Penne a'la Vodka with smoked salmon and black caviar. My dining partners were Tom Miller and a one John David Williford. It was at a restaurant called La Locanda in Coral Gables, Florida. Very sheeshee for a young trio of musical nerds out for dinner and a movie.
This particular variation is from the city of Naples on the eastern coast of Italia. I added a little side of boiled and marinated shrimp. Very simple to make.
You basically add breaded and fried slices of eggplant instead of basil leaves. Serve it over arugula with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. With the addition of the shrimp it can be served as a luncheon meal or lite dinner.
1 1/2 lbs lg. shelled, deveined and tail on shrimp from your fish monger
1 medium sized eggplant
1 small package of Buffalo Mozzarella
2 nice sized Roma tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 package of arugula
Vigo Italian bread crumbs
2 small eggs
lite brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons lite brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
First thing to make is the balsamic vinaigrette. In a blender or Cuisinart. Add your chopped "by hand" garlic. I like to chop it down to a mince and then drop some kosher salt in it and with the flat of the knife. Mash it into a fine paste. Drop it in with your vinegar, salt, pepper & sugar and start a steady mix running. Add your olive oil in a slow, steady stream to the running mixing device. A slow incorporation allows for the dressing to emulsify into a smooth, cafe' latte colored consistency. Once achieved. Shut off your mixer and transfer the dressing to a more suitable mixing container. DON"T refrigerate! There's a reason.
Boiling shrimp is quick and relatively easy . In a small pot. Bring some lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in your shrimp. When they are pink and curled in on themselves. Pull them out and place them in a bowl. While they are still a bit warm. Take a bit of the vinaigrette that you've made and coat them real well. Put them in the fridge to chill. As the shrimp cool and contract. The dressing will be drawn into the flesh. Put your vinaigrette in the fridge now.......
Time for the eggplant. For this recipe as well as eggplant parmigiana. I prefer to keep the skins on my eggplant rounds. It's prettier and it acts as a binder for the flesh of the rounds. One thing people forget to do when frying breaded eggplant. You must always leech out the excess liquid from the cut rounds of eggplant. It's easy. Once you've cut them. You will need a large platter or baking sheet and some paper towels. Lay out your rounds on a layer of paper towels and salt each of them liberally with some kosher salt. Lay another layer of paper towels over the top and lightly press down onto the disks. Allow the eggplant to stand for a 1/2 hour like this. It allows the salt to leech the excess water out of the eggplant and into the towels. Time to fry. Take your 2 eggs and make an egg wash in a small bowl. I like to do an assembly line set up. So, egg, crumbs, frying pan, paper toweled platter to receive the fried eggplant. I like to fry these on medium heat 6 1/2 on the dial. Coat the frying pan bottom liberally with olive oil or vegetable oil. I prefer olive because it's not as heavy and better for you. Fry the rounds until they're golden on both sides and remove. Cut the rounds, cheese and tomato in half for service.
Plating. 1st. Bed of arugula. In a fan out atop the greens. Arugula, mozzarella, tomato. Repeat! Handful of shrimp and a generous drizzle of vinaigrette and you're good to go. Enjoy!