Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Mario Batali’s Edible Garden Recipe of the Day: Caprese Salad with Genovese Pesto

Posted in Mario Batali's Edible Garden on August 29 2011, by Ann Rafalko

From August 27 – September 25, families can explore Mario Batali’s Edible Garden in the Ruth Rea Howell Family Garden and enjoy daily gardening activities and cooking demonstrations showcasing kid-friendly recipes with the chance to sample and search for ingredients in the garden. We are posting the recipes from Mario Batali’s Edible Garden here on the NYBG blog, Plant Talk, so check back often.

Caprese Salad with Genovese Pesto

Recipe courtesy of Mario Batali

Herbs from Mario Batali's Edible Garden at The New York Botanical GardenThere are about 150 varieties of basil, but basilico genovese makes for the best pesto. It’s also essential to making authentic pesto genovese. In Italy, basil is a symbol of love and I love this recipe for a summer caprese salad with ingredients fresh from the seasonal garden.

Basil Pesto

3 garlic cloves
2 cups lightly packed fresh Genovese basil leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts
Generous pinch of Maldon or other flaky sea salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tablespoons grated pecorino romano

10 ounces fresh mozzarella
1 1/2 pounds assorted ripe tomatoes (choose a combination of colors, types and sizes) including Italian Heirloom and bicolor Pineapple

With the motor running, drop the garlic into your best food processor to chop it. Add the Genovese basil, pine nuts, and salt and pulse until the basil and nuts are coarsely chopped, then process until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the Parmigiano and pecorino. Set aside. (The pesto can be stored in a tightly sealed jar, topped with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil, for several weeks in the refrigerator.)

With a sharp knife, cut the mozzarella into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer to a serving platter.

If using cherry or grape tomatoes, cut them in half. Core the remaining tomatoes and slice them. Arrange the tomatoes with the cheese.

Pour the pesto over the salad, sprinkle with salt, and serve.