Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Acccordian-Fanned Caprese alla Sorrentina

This sensational acccordian-fanned Caprese alla Sorrentina was inspired by a dish that I enjoyed last summer at Ristorante Giardino in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Styled on the traditional presentation technique used for making Hasselback Potatoes, this beautifully presented Caprese Salad is served as a whole beefsteak tomato, fanned open with ripe and creamy fior di latte mozzarella, garnished with basil pesto, balsamic vinegar, mixed olives nestled on a bed of arugula and topped with baby sprouts. Simple, healthy and delicious, I've recreated this fabulous summer salad many times with great delight.

Scalloped Hasselback Potatoes  photo: tastykitchen.com

The inspiration for this Caprese Salad came from Hasselback Potatoes, a Swedish recipe named after Hasselbacken, a Stockholm restaurant which first served the dish in 1748, where they were called hasselbackspotatis. In their simplest form, they're nothing more than whole potatoes cut in such a way as to resemble a fan or accordion when roasted. The outside of the potato becomes crisp and brown while the inside is soft and creamy, and makes a delicious accompaniment to grilled beef, pork or chicken. The accordian-fanned Hasselback presentation can be used for lots of other dishes, such as Hasselback Sweet Potatoes, Accordian Fanned Strawberries with Mint & Marscapone or my fabulous Caprese alla Sorrentina.

Acccordian-Fanned Caprese alla Sorrentina
Serves 4

4 ripe hot house tomatoes
4 fior di latte mozzarella or Mozzarella di Bufala (same size as tomato), sliced
1/4 cup basil pesto
Balsamic vinegar or glaze, for garnish
4 cups of arugula or mixed greens
12 sun-dried black olives
2 cups microgreens
Maldon salt

Make a series of 1/4-inch thick slices into each tomato, making sure not to cut through to the other side. Fan out the tomatoes, and insert a slice of fresh buffalo mozzarella between each slice. To serve, place a bed of arugula or mixed greens in the centre of 4 dinner plates and top each of the stuffed tomatoes. Garnish generously with tablespoonfuls of basil pesto and a drizzle of glazed balsamic vinegar over top. Finish with your favourite sea salt, a few sun-dried back olives and crown with a mound of fresh baby microgreens. 

Scalloped Hasselback Potatoes
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy tastykitchen.com

4 whole russet potatoes
1/4 cup butter
4 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp and 1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup cheddar 

Sour cream and chopped chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Wash and dry the potatoes. You'll need 2 wooden spoons with handles of the same width. Place a spoon on each side of the potato and start slicing the potato into thin slices. The spoons will stop the knife from cutting all the way through the potato. Slice the butter into thin pieces. Alternate the butter and the parmesan, stuffing them in between the slices of the potato. Season the potato with garlic powder and kosher salt, then drizzle with olive oil. Bake on a parchment lined baking tray at 400ºF for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle heavy cream over the potatoes and top with cheddar cheese. Place back in the oven for 10-12 more minutes. Remove and serve with a dollop of sour cream and flurry of chopped chives.