what: Insalata Caprese
where: Rosso Trattoria Italia, 4840 Forest Dr., 787-3949
A host of local restaurants are gearing up for the Tasty Tomato Festival this Saturday at City Roots by including tomato-themed specials (Tomato Feast!) on their menus this week. For this week’s Bite, Free Times checked out Rosso’s beautiful insalata caprese, with beefsteak tomatoes from Lexington County layered between fresh, delicate mozzarella from North Carolina’s Chapel Hill Creamery, along with fresh basil (including some tiny basil sprouts) and mixed greens in a blood orange vinaigrette. It’s no secret that basil and tomato belong together. Italian cooks figured this out intuitively centuries ago, but now there’s some evidence to support it. Recent research by the University of Florida on the chemistry of tomato flavor has shown that the tomatoes most people prefer are the ones with higher levels of certain aromatic compounds, which just so happen to resemble those present in basil. Pictured in the background is a perfect-for-summer pairing of a chilled glass of 2012 Fratelli Allessandria Verduno Pelaverga ($9). — Jonathan Sharpe
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