Whenever we get asked to someone’s home for dinner, a party, cookout, gathering, movie night, whatever the reason might be, I, of course, always ask, ‘What can I bring?’ I love it when they say ‘salad’! Not only are they easy to make, but there’s so many creative options for salads out there beyond what your mind’s eye might ‘see’ when you hear the word ‘salad’. You know, a bowl filled with some greens, maybe some chopped carrots, celery, tomatoes, dressing, and that’s about what constitutes a ‘salad’. But, salads can be off the charts clever if you just think outside the bowl. And, that’s what this ‘contemporary caprese platter salad’ is, outside the bowl of thinking about a caprese salad.
The event that we were invited to was a Derby Party! Yes, wearing your favorite big bonnet, and in my case, my newest dooorag, and drinking mint juleps! Knowing there’d be a crowd there, and plenty of food, I wanted to make this a big platter salad. And, I love my vintage worn looking enamel platter. Perfect for this big salad where folks can scoop and choose what they want to comprise their ‘caprese salad’. The greens can be any type, but I suggest small leafy greens, watercress, arugula, mini kales, combine them all together. Then don’t chop your basil leaves. Leave the whole! OMG, they’re amazing when you bite into them in the greens.
You can design your platter in any style. I just happened to like the layout that you see here in my photos. Now what makes this salad ‘contemporary’ is the addition of other flavors and textures that you don’t normally see with a traditional caprese salad. I’ve added pan seared cumin and caper garbanzo beans. Oh, these warm buttery beans just melt in your mouth and add a new dimension of flavor. Then there’re the thinly sliced red onions, raw, because we want that tad bit of crunch. The Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flair continues with olives, both black and green. Don’t think my ingredients are your only choices…next time, I’m definitely adding mini cucumbers for more crunch, maybe some nuts, roasted corn…who knows!
And, last thing, you can adjust this quantity for just a few folks, too. We had some leftover and it was dang good on day two! I even took a picture…check it out…with chicken wings for lunch the next day!
- 2 Tbl. oil
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. red chili flakes
- 2 Tbl. capers, drained
- 8 cups salad greens, arugula, European greens
- 3 cups basil leaves, packed
- 6 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
- 2 cups red onions, sliced thinly in half moon shape
- 3 cups pearl mozzarella balls, cut in halves
- 1 cup olives, black and green with pimentos
- 1 large lemon, juice
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning mixture
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. coarse ground pepper
- In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, add the oil, beans, ground cumin, salt, chili flakes and capers. Cook for about 5 minutes tossing and turning the beans. Turn heat off. Set aside.
- On a large serving platter, arrange the greens and basil on opposite ends. Add the cherry tomatoes next to each of the greens. Place the garbanzo beans on the platter. Then make room for the mozzarella in the middle of the platter with space at the top/bottom for the red onions
- Sprinkle the olives on the cheese, beans and tomatoes. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Drizzle over all of the mixture. Serve immediately.