Friday, June 12, 2015

Caprese Croissant with Speck and Garlic Balsamic Mayo

Think juicy, sweet vine-ripened tomatoes, and fresh, moist mozzarella melting underneath a blanket of fragrant, garden-fresh basil - all wedged into a buttery, flaky, toasted croissant... I think you get the idea.

How it has not occurred to me until now that the Insalata Caprese actually resembles the colors of the Italian flag, I don't know. But what I do know is that in Italy, this genuinely Neapolitan antipasto is a tribute to the essence of fresh ingredients that is almost emblematic of the country's renowned gastronomy. The key is to keep the dish simple, dressed at most with a touch of olive oil, and never any balsamic vinegar or pesto.

Fresh produce from Italy. A few quality ingredients are all you need for a mouthwatering sandwich.

When serving this Italian classic in a breakfast sandwich, I think we are allowed to be bold and play it up just a little. I recently returned from northern Italy with a bunch of produce and groceries, among which are the ever important balls of mozzarella and parcels of deli-sliced prosciutto.

Hunger strikes, and the idea of a "croissan'wich" comes. Perfect to jumpstart a sluggish weekend or as a hangover cure, this "recipe" is really more an idea than a proper recipe. If you swear by dressing your sandwich with a spread, try a light smear of tangy Garlic Balsamic Mayo that takes only minutes to make. And if you swear by meat, trade greasy bacon for a couple slices of speck (Italian cured and smoked meat) ...and voilà, we just have an irresistable spin on the classic BLT with an unmistakably Italian flair.

Are you in yet?

To prepare...
2 croissants1 ball (125 g) of fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/3" thick
Small, vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced (I used pomodoro picadilly)
Fresh basil leaves
4 slices of speck (optional)

For the Garlic Balsamic Mayo... (optional)

1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon balsamic glaze (or balsamic vinegar)

Got no speck? Substitute with turkey, ham, or some good ol' bacon

Oh yeah... feels good

1. Preheat oven to 200C/375F. In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, garlic and balsamic glaze and set aside. Slice the croissants lengthwise without separating the two halves. Lightly spread mayo mixture on the bottom half of the croissant. 

2. Layer on speck, followed by tomatoes and mozzarella, insulating the tomatoes well from direct contact with the croissant to avoid soggy buns.

3. Pop the sandwiches into the oven open-faced for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and croissant is nicely toasted without charring. Remove from oven and top mozzarella with whole basil leaves. Enjoy the sensation of stretching cheese and the explosion of fresh flavors! Buon appetito and have a great weekend.

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