Caprese in Capris

Where the only thing that should be melting this summer is the cheese in your sandwich

Pesto lovers, this one's for you. While we love a good pesto pasta, the summer heat isn't always conducive to the heaviness of pasta. So instead we looked to the Caprese sandwich for something a little lighter – a healthy, filling alternative inspired by the Caprese salad. 

Interestingly, the Caprese salad dates back to post-World War I Italy, and is said to have been a tribute to the tricolour of the Italian flag. It was created by a patriotic mason who visually incorporated the flag colours into the presentation - tomatoes for red, basil for green, cheese for white. The sandwich adaptation is no less colourful, and equally delicious.

To make this summery, picnic-ready sandwich, here's what you'll need:

1 baguette

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups of arugula or spinach leaves

2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds

1/2 teaspoon of salt (this is to season, so feel free to increase or reduce the quantity to taste)

3/4 cup creamy basil sauce

Pre-heated oven to 200 degrees celsius

If you're unsure of what pesto sauce to buy that's available on the market, you can instead make your own. You'll need:

1 small or 1/2 medium garlic clove, roughly chopped

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup (1 ounce) lightly packed fresh basil

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

Lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste

You're all set to make fresh, delicious sandwiches that are perfect for a lunch with friends and family.

The process:

  1. Now that you’ve preheated your oven for at least 15 minutes, it’s time to prepare the bread. Slice the bread in half lengthwise, and stack the pieces before slicing again. You can either make two large sandwiches, or four smaller ones.

  1. Place the sliced bread on a baking sheet with the inner sides facing up. Leave for 5 minutes, or until you can see the edges turning a light golden around the edges.

  1. In the meantime, prepare the creamy basil sauce. In a food processor or mixer-grinder, blitz the garlic till it’s a paste. Then add the mayo, basil, salt and pepper. Keep blending till it’s smooth and creamy. 

  1. Lay out your golden bread and drizzle some olive oil over half of the cut sides of bread. Place some arugula or spinach leaves on top, then top it off with as much mozzarella cheese as you’d like. You can either lay the cheese down as slices, or break them up into small chunks. Over the cheese go the sliced tomatoes, after which you can then sprinkle some salt to taste.

  1. On the remaining slices of bread, slather the basil sauce generously over the inner side before placing them face down over the tomatoes. All done!

If you don’t have access to an oven, you can even toast the bread gently over a pan on the stove – as long as the bread is warm and well-browned, you’ve got yourself a Caprese sandwich!

The sandwich pairs well with french fries, salad, or a simple glass of watermelon juice. Invite some friends over, and share conversations over this simple but effective meal. Don’t forget to keep some serviettes on hand! That yummy olive oil can be a liiiittle messy.

Recipe adapted from Caprese sandwich recipe by Kate of Cookie + Kate.

Caprese salad history source: