Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes Caprese Salad


1.Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes Caprese Salad

Photography Serge Oryan

The beauty of Italy never ceases to amaze me, from north to south, armed with many authentic places (and recipes!!!) I fall in love with each city I visit. I was in Rome this month for my Birthday. My precious husband treated me with a 5-stars vacation and spent his time spoiling me.

What fall under the culinary section during my trip, are lots of Parmesan cheese, seafood and sparkling wine. From casual street food to Michelin starred restaurants, Italian cuisine is as influential as Rome’s artistic and historical assets. I selected only a couple of places to talk about, the ones I really want to visit again upon my next trip.

The first night we had dinner at Rinaldi al Quirinale, 11 via Parma, the next day we came back for their orange marinated salmon, Salmone Marinato all’Arancio; the best I ever had! On the way to Rinaldi, at the southern end of via Nazionale, my husband couldn’t resist the fab’ smell of the fresh and crunchy fries at Queens Chips. He ordered a piccolo (small) size, which was really a massive portion of freshly fried chips and sauce for €2.50!


After a long shopping day around the Spanish steps I was in the mood for some Italian cheese, fresh smoothie and a hearty salad. Ginger restaurant, via Borgognona 43/44, was the best place for that. The menu is a compilation of gourmet treats, well presented in a white, modern and trendy environment. They serve light meals, fresh salads and sandwiches. Not only I enjoyed my cheese selection with a refreshing Caienna smoothie (Avocado, dates, banana, almond milk) and a Fossa salad (Mixed salad leaves, yellow and red lettuce, rocket, spinach, dried tomatoes, turkey, goat cheese, organic walnuts, green apple), but I also got to meet and chat with the talented Soprano Zeina Barhoum, who happened to be sitting right next to us.

On our way back from the Colosseum we stopped by Aroma restaurant where we booked a table for lunch. This gourmet restaurant has been awarded with 1 Michelin star and its regional cuisine has been recognized with 5 Star Diamond Award! It offers a spectacular view on the Colosseum, highly recommended for a special event (like my birthday!!). The food was exquisite and creative and the attentive staff follows the chef’s dedication. This dining experience was so momentous and exceeded our expectations.

The Aroma2


On the last eve, I went to a gourmet store and bought fresh mini mozzarella balls, as I was dreaming about Caprese salad. My recipe is so simple and totally relies on the freshness of the ingredients. It requires no slicing at all. Combine all ingredients and toss with best quality olive oil. There’s absolutely no excuse for using average olive oil in your salad. The key to a perfect Caprese salad is to use only the good stuff. Don’t add pesto or balsamic vinegar; the less improvement you do, the better. The recipe is a classic as it is, do yourself a favor and don’t try to ameliorate it. It doesn’t matter what kind of tomatoes you use as long as it’s fresh! I love to use yellow and red tomatoes, as this slight twist adds elegance to the presentation also the sweetness of the yellow tomato rounds off the creaminess of the mozarella. Enjoy!

Yellow and Red Cherry Tomatoes Caprese Salad


  • 100 g red cherry tomatoes, washed and rinsed
  • 100 g yellow cherry tomatoes, washed and rinsed
  • 150 g mini Mozzarella Cheese balls
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Dried oregano, to taste
  • Extra virgin Olive Oil, to taste
  • Coarse Sea Salt, to taste


Combine tomatoes and Mozzarella balls. Sprinkle with basil leaves, oregano and salt. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Serve with Italian grissini or some crusty bread.

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)


Panzanella salad is one that I remember to prepare when I have a slightly stale French loaf. I love home-made croutons, and when flavored with garlic or cheese I can nibble at that all day long.

This salad uses simple ingredients, like tomatoes, red onions, basil and a couple of cucumbers to add some crunch. The sharp taste of the dressing is a good match and will appreciatively contrast with the croutons.

Don’t forget to pull out your best quality extra-virgin olive to make it!


Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)


  • ½ cup extra virgin oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 day old, loaf French baguette or Italian bread, cut in croutons size
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cucumbers, diced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, chopped


  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or apple vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt, to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat olive oil for 2 minutes, then drop the garlic inside and leave it to cool.
  3. Scatter the bread pieces on a baking tray and brush or drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the garlic olive oil. Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake about 5-7 minutes on each side.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.
  5. To prepare the dressing; discard garlic cloves. Add vinegar, shallot sugar and salt to olive oil and whisk.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil and bread (croutons). Toss all in the dressing and serve immediately.

Mushroom, Ham and Cheese Pizza

During the last few years, Milan has been an addictive destination to me! No matter where I wanted to go in Europe, it has to be via Milano. Partly is for the shopping of course but mostly is for the bounties of Italy. I’m in love with this country, the nature, the culture, the traditions, the walks and obviously the food!

Last week I was there with my dear friend Nidal. We had a blast! We enjoyed every bit of our stay.

On our last day, we drove north to the town of Como. We walked around the small streets then went to see one of the top travel destination in Italy, lying between Milan and the border of Switzerland, the Lake Como. Wow! Beautiful! I think my heart has stopped beating for few seconds.

After Como we crossed the Swiss frontiers visiting Lugano, where we had lunch, bought Gruyere cheese and Swiss chocolate and walked the stretch along the Lake Lugano. I was surrounded with breathtaking scenery! I stared at the deep blue water, the mountains and the white peaks in disbelief, thinking this is all I wanna do, everything else can wait!

Zap to reality, to Lebanon, with its never-ending political issues and stressful events bursting every now and then.

Inspired by my trip and all fused with my passion for Italian cooking, I decided today to bake a Pizza.

This recipe uses fresh onions, garlic, mushroom and scented thyme. I sprinkled fresh garden basil over the Mozzarella and the Gruyere cheese, to give it a little extra flavor and fragrant.

Unfortunately, it’s not the best shot I have on my website, next time I make the same recipe, I’ll try to take a better picture.

I would be lying if I say that I make Pizza often. It’s so easy to prepare, but for some reason I always manage to forget about this recipe. And when I do it, I’m always proud of my achievement, which earns me big smiles from my hubby and girls!

Mushroom, Ham and Cheese Pizza


 The dough

  • 400g all-purpose flour (strong flour Tipo “00” is recommended)
  • 100g semolina or ferkha
  • 1tsp salt
  • 7g/2 ¼ tsp/1 sachet active dry yeast + 50ml hand-hot water
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin oil


  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups of tomato sauce or passata
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 200g sliced ham
  • 100f fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • Handful of fresh thyme
  • ½ cup black olives, pitted
  • 1 tbsp pizza seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese, grated


  1. In a jug, dissolve the yeast and sugar in water and let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour and semolina together. Add salt.
  3. Make a well in the middle. Add oil to the yeast mixture and pour it in the centre of the well. Start mixing, bringing the flour from the edges to the middle. Add water and keep kneading to form a springy large ball with the dough.
  4. Cover the dough with an oiled sheet of cling film and return to the bowl. Cover it with a kitchen towel and leave the dough to rise about ½ an hour or until it has doubled in size.
  5. To make the topping: In a saucepan heat oil and sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, ketchup and mushrooms and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Season with oregano or pizza seasoning and salt and pepper.
  6. Off the heat add the thyme and the olives and mix.
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll out on a floured surface to form a rectangular shape. Place it in the mold pushing out the edges evenly. For thick dough, it should be no more than 1cm.
  8. Brush the dough with the tomato Passata sauce and spread the topping evenly over the pizza base and sprinkle with Gruyere and Mozzarella cheese. Bake in a preheated oven 200°C for 20-25 minutes or until the dough rises and turns slightly golden.