Monday, July 1, 2013

Not Your Momma's Caprese Salad + Quick & Easy Caramelized Balsamic Onion Burger Topper Recipes -- Using Devo Olive Oil Balsamic Vinegars

Disclosure: I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone. 

Wow, my "Not Your Mamma's Caprese Salad Sandwich" was such a hit this past weekend at a friend's son's graduation party, I thought I would share the recipe again with you, in case you are looking for quick and easy meals during the upcoming hot summer months.  This sandwich, which is my husband's favorite, can also be served as a salad.  I ended up bringing a platter of sandwiches and one with the Caprese salad for guests to enjoy however they liked.  It was hard to say which was more popular, the sandwich version or the loose Caprese salad, as both plates were empty by the time I went to retrieve them at the end of the party. And, during the party, I couldn't help but overhear other guests talking about how good the Caprese salad was. :-)

With the warmer summer weather here, I opt for more crock pot meals and easy to whip up sandwich recipes when it comes to planning my weekly dinners, as I hate to spend hours prepping and cooking in the kitchen, all while heating up the house.  Not only are sandwiches easy to make, but they are one of my favorite things to experiment with.  If you follow my blog, then you have probably read reviews about Devo Olive Oil products, including flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils.  So, you can only imagine how excited I was last month when I found out I was chosen to be a Devo Diva.  Not only does it have a nice ring to it, but this honor also carries with the opportunity to try out different Devo Oil Olive products each month, so that I can share recipes and some great products with you, as well as opportunities throughout the year for readers to win some of the Devo Olive Oil products I review to try for themselves. 

Each month, Devo Olive Oil highlights a few of their products in their "Featured Flavors" offer.  Last month they offered tangerine balsamic and almond olive oil for only $31.95 for the pair.  These monthly deals are a great way to sample some flavors you otherwise would not pick up and use in your recipes.  And, for the month of July, the featured flavors for July will be Red Apple, Blueberry, and Coconut Balsamic, offered as part of their 4th of July Sale.  Not sure of the price yet, as they haven't started advertising the sale on their site.  But, usually the featured flavors are around the $31.95 price -- which is a steal for the quality of product your receive.  I have never been disappointed with the olive oils and balsamic vinegars I have been sent for review and have purchased on my own.


Now, back to the "Not Your Mamma's Caprese Salad recipe.  The reason my husband gave this sandwich the name, "Not Your Mamma's Caprese Salad Sandwich," is because I had taken my Mom's Caprese salad recipe, added a few more ingredients and put between two pieces of bread.  While I love salads during the summer, there is something about this recipe that makes it taste even better with bread.  Maybe it is because the bread gets soaked with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil?  Or, maybe it is because you can choose to put this sandwich in a panini press to make a melted caprese sandwichMmm, I am getting hungry just thinking about the sandwich. :-)  But, for whatever reason, my version of a caprese salad, made into a sandwich, has become a hit amongst my friends and family, and especially my husband.  Whenever I ask what he wants as a meal each week, he usually requests this sandwich.  And, on special occasions, like his birthday and our anniversary, I like to make this sandwich for him, and serve it up alongside a batch of fresh potato chips or sweet potato fries.
Doesn't this sandwich look delicious? You can craft this recipe to your liking, by choosing the type of bread you want to use (ie. homemade bread, focaccia bread, ciabatta bread, etc.), as well as decide how many slices of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese you want to layer in between the two slices of bread.  Then, decide on if you want the cheese melted in a panini press, or eaten as is.  However, you choose to eat this sandwich, you will find yourself without leftovers and family and friends asking for the recipe. :-)

"Not Your Mamma's Caprese Salad Sandwich"

(Yields 6-8 sandwiches, depending on # of layers of cheese/tomato you use)


1 TBSP. apple or blueberry Balsamic Vinegar (I used both balsamic vinegars, but love how the apple balsamic vinegar tastes with the fresh mozzarella; but, note that other balsamic vinegar flavors can also be used if you don't like apple or blueberry)
3-4 TBSP. Olive Oil (Again, I love using Devo Olive Oil Products)
1 Bunch Fresh Basil (leaves only)
1/4 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper 
1 8-oz. Fresh Mozzarella Ball
1 Avocado
1 large hothouse tomato *or if in season, use red and yellow tomatoes for nice color contrast
1/2 cup Broccoli Sprouts (optional)
Bread of Your Choice *I like using Ciabatta or toasted white bread


1.  Slice up tomatoes, avocado, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.
2. On a platter or large plate, begin layer the sliced ingredients...tomato, mozzarella, avocado.  Continue to repeat, making rows, until all sliced ingredients are used up.
3.  Sprinkle cut up fresh basil over the rows, and follow by drizzling the olive oil over the rows.
4.  Crack fresh ground pepper over the rows, and then sprinkle with broccoli sprouts.
5. Finish by drizzling rows with balsamic vinegar.  *I like to use flavored balsamic vinegars, like those found at Devo Oil, to give the Caprese salad a unique and unexpected flavor. :-)

And, here is what the Caprese Salad looks if you keep it as a salad

6.  Chill Caprese salad until ready to eat, or at least 10-15 minutes, to give the sliced mozzarella, tomatoes and avocado time to soak up the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
7.  When ready to serve, choose your favorite sandwich bread, and layer Caprese salad mixture between bread.  *If I have time, I like to make a homemade Italian herb bread in the bread machine.  If not, I oftentimes use store-bought focaccio or ciabatta bread, or other bread from the bread aisle.  Right now, my husband loves getting white rice loaf, a gluten and dairy-free bread found at stores like Whole Foods.

What is your family's go-to meal during the hot summer months?  Do you find yourself serving up more salads and sandwiches?   While my girls will say hands down that they love their grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, my husband favors the more healthy/Vegetarian sandwiches.  He says he doesn't feel as guilty making a second sandwich, as he knows it is healthy. :-)  
I would love to hear about your favorite recipes for great summer salads and sandwiches, and have you share your recipes in the comments section below.  Summer is a great time to experiment with new sandwich recipes, I will definitely be trying out a few, which include a few adult grilled cheese sandwiches using flavorful cheeses, along with side salads with flavored balsamic vinegars from Devo Olive Oil.

If you get a chance to try out my recipe for this easy Caprese Salad Sandwich, or tweak it to your family's liking, I would love to hear what you thought.  So, be sure to leave your comments below.

And, don't forget to head on over to the Devo Olive Oil website now to pick up the July Featured Flavors -- Red Apple, Blueberry, and Coconut Balsamic.  Have fun trying them out in some of your favorite recipes, or some new ones you create.  Just last night, I ended up making chorizo and ground beef hamburgers and topped them with caramelized red onions, which I made using the blueberry balsamic vinegar from Devo Olive Oil.  This oh so tasty condiment/burger topper is so easy to make.  Here is the recipe:


1 large red onion
1 TBSP. olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 TBSP. Sugar
1 TBSP. balsamic vinegar (I used Devo Olive Oil's Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar)


1.  Slice up the red onion into thin strips. 
2.  Heat up a large frying pan and add 1 TBSP. of olive oil.  Then, add the sliced red onion and 1/2 TBSP. of sugar to pan, and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown, stirring occasionally to prevent onions from sticking to pan.
3.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4.  Add 1 TBSP. of balsamic vinegar and continue cooking onions for 10-12 minutes, or until they are caramelized.

Any ideas for using Devo Olive Oil's Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar, another of the July Featured Flavors?  Tonight, I will be trying out a coconut breaded chicken tenders recipe I came up with using the coconut balsamic vinegar from Devo Olive Oil.  And, for a salad recipe, I was thinking about using this balsamic vinegar drizzled on top of fresh mescaline greens, with either shrimp or salmon, avocado, red onions and pineapple chunks.  Mmm, I am getting hungry just thinking about it.  I can't wait to share photos and a recipe with you, so stay tuned!

Disclosure: I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views shared are mine and mine alone.

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