As I mentioned last week, my husband and I recently took a cruise through the Mediterranean, visiting several countries along the way. I've been highlighting recipes from each of the countries we visited here on the blog. Last week, we took a culinary journey to Spain with some Spanish Paella
. This week, it's all about Italy!
Italy was by far
my favorite country of the three we visited throughout the cruise. We had two stops in Italy - Portofino and Alghero. Portofino was the most beautiful little fishing village. It was so picturesque... I could have spent a week there, just walking around and soaking up the sights.
We enjoyed a few tasty meals at our stops in Italy. It seemed that the approach to food in Italy was pretty simple. (So, so different from America where we have things like burgers topped with mac & cheese!) Most of the dishes on the restaurant menus featured simple, light flavors that worked well together. We enjoyed a margherita pizza at a little cafe, and it was phenomenal. So simple, too - just tomato sauce, cheese, and fresh basil. The crust was crisp but chewy, and everything tasted so fresh.
We also enjoyed a slow morning people-watching with a few brioche (stuffed with marmalade, yum!) and cafe lattes. It was so relaxing and serene. The pace of life in Italy was just a bit slower than here in the US.
Caprese is a very popular trio of flavors featured in Italian cuisine - tomato, basil, and mozzarella. The traditional method of preparation is to layer fresh sliced tomato, sliced mozzarella, and basil with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt. I put a little twist on the typical caprese salad and turned it into a main entree, Grilled Steak Caprese Salad with Balsamic Glaze.
A combination of spinach, fresh basil, diced tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, topped off with freshly grilled sirloin and a balsamic drizzle. We went nuts for this salad! It is so fresh, but still has an indulgent taste. (I think because of the steak. Steak makes everything better!) It's full of healthy ingredients as well.
It's pretty easy to prepare, too. First up, get your steak marinating. Just drizzle a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the steak, and top it with some minced garlic and salt & pepper. Let it marinate 30-60 minutes before you fire up the grill.
Once get the steak on the grill, you can start with the balsamic glaze. Pour about a cup of balsamic vinegar into a saucepan, and let it simmer about 15 minutes on low. It'll become thick & syrupy, and so delicious. (You will want to pour it over everything, haha!)
Once your steak is done, assemble the salads. Start with a bed of baby spinach, then top with diced fresh tomatoes, and cubed fresh mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella is key here - it is so much more flavorful than standard mozzarella. You can find it in the deli section.
Slice the steak and top the salads with it. Then, just a sprinkle of salt & pepper, and pour on a drizzle of olive oil and that yummy balsamic glaze.
So many flavors in this salad - everything works so well together! You could definitely leave off the steak to make this a meatless meal, or substitute grilled chicken to lighten it up even more. We served it up with some toasted sesame semolina artisan bread from the Chief deli, which was fantastic to soak up the extra balsamic glaze left on the plate.
Grilled Steak Caprese Salad
- For the steak
- 1-lb. sirloin
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- salt & pepper
- minced garlic
- For the balsamic glaze
- For the salad
- 6-oz package baby spinach
- 3-4 Campari tomatoes, diced
- 6-8-oz fresh mozzarella cheese, diced into chunks
- 10-12 basil leaves, chiffonade
- additional olive oil, for dressing
- toasted Italian bread, for serving
For marinade, drizzle steak with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and add a few teaspoons of minced garlic. Let marinate 30-60 minutes.
To prepare steak, preheat grill to high heat. Discard large chunks of garlic. Add steaks to grill and cook until your desired doneness. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
For balsamic glaze, add 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan. Simmer 10-15 minutes, until thick & syrupy. Set aside.
To prepare salads, start with a plate of baby spinach. Layer on diced Campari tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves. Add sliced steak, then top with balsamic glaze and an additional drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt & pepper, and serve with toasted Italian bread.