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Caprese revisited
HOW much lasagna?
A nutritious Weblink
Let us hear from you!
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Caprese revisited

It's too darn hot. Too hot to cook. Too hot to eat much. But fresh local tomatoes are coming on at last, so let's revisit one of my favorite summer recipes: Caprese ("cah-pray-zeh"), a simple but delicious composition of fresh, juicy tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, topped with creamy mozzarella and garnished with finely shredded fresh basil. Add a loaf of crusty Italian bread and a glass of wine, and it's all you need for a light summer dinner.

This is no time for those pale-pink supermarket softballs: For this summer treat, pick from your own garden or choose the best tomatoes your farmer's market has to offer; snip a few fresh basil leaves and treat yourself to a moist and tender round of fresh mozzarella.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

2 large, fresh tomatoes
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces mozzarella, fresh if possible
1 medium sprig basil, or to taste


1. Prepare a large plate. Smash the garlic clove and rub it all over; then drizzle on about 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil.

2. Rinse and dry the tomatoes and cut them into thick slices. Arrange them on the plate. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the tomatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. If your tomatoes are bland, you might add a drop of balsamic vinegar to each, but this shouldn't be necessary with fresh local tomatoes in season.

3. Slice the mozzarella into thin rounds and put one round on each tomato slice.

4. Cut the basil into very thin strips (chefs call this a "chiffonade") and sprinkle it over the mozzarella and tomatoes. Or, for an appetizing variation, spread a little basil pesto on each tomato slice before you put on the cheese.

MATCHING WINE: Thanks to the snappy acidity of fresh tomatoes, the creamy mozzarella and the fresh herbal flavor of basil, caprese is one salad that will work with the right red wine - specifically, a fruity Chianti. (Go with a simple young wine, though - save your big Chianti Classico Riserva for more hearty fare.) If you prefer a white, Sauvignon Blanc is a natural with herbal veggie dishes; or try a crisp Italian white such as a Gavi or quality Soave.

Discuss this recipe in our online forum:
If you have comments or observations about today's topic, please feel free to drop in on our interactive online Food Lovers' Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new topic, "FoodLetter: Caprese revisited." To read the replies, and join in, click to:
Click the REPLY button on the forum page to post a comment or response. (If your E-mail software broke this long link in half, take care to paste it all back into one line before you enter it in your Web browser.)

HOW much lasagna?

Because I normally design these recipes to serve two, I carelessly neglected to change the standard form when I made a rather larger portion of lasagna last week. As a few of you noted in E-mail, a pound of pasta and a pound-and-a-half of meat would make a mighty hearty dinner for a couple.

In fact, the recipe should make eight hearty portions or four huge ones. Happily, it makes excellent leftovers and will last several days in the fridge.

A nutritious Weblink

Ever wondered how many calories are really in that fast-food burger, or just how many grams of carbohydrate you'll consume when you indulge in a bowl of mashed potatoes?

In the past, I have usually referred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Database for Standard Reference,
where you can look up comprehensive nutrition information - calorie counts, fat, carbohydrate and carbohydrate content, and much more - for thousands of common foods.

But now I've found something even better, and I want to share it with you. Strictly as a non-commercial labor of love, Ron Johnson, an independent inventor, engineer and consultant in the fitness industry, has created a remarkable Website called NutritionData that offers even more information than the USDA site, and presents it in a speedy, professional interface that's informative and easy to use.

Its database currently holds detailed information on 6,742 foods and beverages in 30 categories. Enter the food or drink of interest, click the button, and you get back a list of links for all the foods that match. The results display in the form of a standard U.S. nutrition label (even for foods like fast-food products, wine and beer that don't have to disclose them), along with a colorful "caloric ratio" graph, a triangle on which you can instantly pinpoint the ratio of fat, carbs and protein in the food; detailed specific nutrients per serving, and a brief and punchy summary detailing what's good ("Low in cholesterol," for instance) and what's not ("High in fat") about the chosen item.

Curious about your favorite fast food? You can search for all the details about your favorite dishes at Dairy Queen, KFC, Krispy Kreme, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Subway and Taco Bell. Be warned, though: You may not really want to know that your double Quarter Pounder with cheese delivers a whopping 760 calories, including your entire day's allocation of saturated fat.

It's a wonderful resource, and I've put it on top of my list of bookmarks. You'll find it all at
Or, for a clear and helpful tutorial to get you started,

A TECHNICAL NOTE: The NutritionData site uses a "pulldown menu" driven by Javascript, and I had a bit of trouble making it work at first. If you visit the site but don't see a search-entry box under the line "Search ND's 6,742-food database by food name," you may need to make sure your browser's security settings permit Javascript, and that your "pop-up-stopper" software, if you're using it, is not blocking the menu.

Let us hear from you!

If you have suggestions or comments about The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter, or if you would like to suggest a topic for a coming edition and recipe, please drop me a note at I really enjoy hearing from you, and I try to give a personal reply to all mail if I possibly can.

Of course you also have a standing invitation to participate in our interactive Food Lovers' Discussion Group. To participate in this friendly online community, simply click to
and feel free to reply to any topic or start a new one.

Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Lasagna (July 3)

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Thursday, July 10, 2003
Copyright 2003 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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