Caprese Salad

I recently had the pleasure of going to a Caprese here in Ottawa. Caprese is an entirely gluten-free Italian restaurant, just outside of Little Italy. It was amazing, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera to take any pictures. I got a pasta dish with olives, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes in an oil-based sauce and a gluten-free beer to go with it. Unfortunately, the complementary bread and their desserts were not vegan, but they were very helpful with telling me what menu items were vegan. Highly recommended!

Anyway, after going to Caprese, I was inspired to try my hand at a Caprese-style salad. My version is a stacked tomato, layered with homemade mozzarella-style cheese, basil leaves and some basil pesto, with a balsamic reduction and olive oil drizzle.

Read on for the recipes.

Jenny’s Pesto

I actually tripled this recipe, as I got a really good deal in the market on basil. This jumbo bunch of basil cost me 2 bucks and I still have lots left!

In a food processor, combine:

3 c loose basil leaves
1/2 c nuts (I did a mix of walnuts, pumpkin seeds and hemp hearts)
3 cloves garlic
splash of lemon juice
1/8-1/4 c nutritional yeast

Once that is pureed, add about 1/3 cup of olive oil* into the processor while it is running.

Season with salt and pepper.

*For a lower fat option, try replacing some of the oil with water or milk and see what happens.

This makes a generous cup and freezes really well. I like to freeze mine in ice cube trays and then into bags. That way, I always have the perfect amount to liven up a dish.

Mozzarella-style cheese

I have wanted to try making my own cheese for a long time, and now that I have started, I might not be able to stop. I couldn’t believe how easy and affordable it is. I got the recipe for the cheese from The Vegan Epicurean. This recipe uses almonds, cashews and agar powder and is actually pretty quick to make, not including the soaking time for the almonds.

Balsamic Reduction

If you have never made a balsamic reduction before, it is actually surprisingly simple. All I do is put some balsamic vinegar in a pot and cook it down on my stove until it is reduced by about half. Reducing balsamic vinegar makes the vinegar tastes sweet and flavourful.

Once you have all the ingredients set up, it only takes a minute to make the salad. I started by slicing a tomato, and reassembling it with slices of cheese, basil leaves and pesto in between.

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