Insalata Caprese (literally, the salad from Capri) is the perfect summertime dish for cooks in a hurry; slicing is the hardest part. The salad was created in the 1950s at the Trattoria da Vincenzo for regulars out for a light lunch. They’d order a just-picked tomato and freshly made buffalo mozzarella on Capri). The salad has evolved on the island to include a few leaves of fughetta (wild arugula) and a pinch of dried wild oregano, both local products; everywhere else in Italy it takes the form of tomato, mozzarella, and basil. The dressing is always a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil — only. Vinegar would destroy the delicate flavor of the cheese and is never used. Sometimes I add Italian black olives to the salad for a change but it is not traditional.
2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup packed fresh basil or arugula leaves, washed well, and spun dry
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled if using arugula instead of basil
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
On a large platter arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Sprinkle salad with oregano and arugula and drizzle with oil. Season salad with salt and pepper.