The first time I ever tried a caprese salad was when I was visiting my much-more-sophisticated-than-I older cousin Billy Jo. She and her husband own an exquisite home in Houston and my sister and I were down for a visit nearly a decade ago now.
Before dinner one night, Billy pullled out the ingredients for a caprese salad – fresh mozzarella, gorgeous roma tomatoes, huge stems of basil, and a little balsamic vinegar.
Never having seen such an adventurous flavor combination before, I watched closely as she meticulously layered the cheese with the tomato, and then the basil, over and over again until the plate resembled the Italian flag. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar finished it off before we all claimed our portion. Admittedly, my then 16-year-old self didn’t appreciate the robust, fresh flavors. But now, it’s one of my absolute favorite Italian bites. This “grilled cheese” sandwich is an homage to that salad with a bit more heartiness and the ease of portability.
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