Is there anything that screams summer more than a good Caprese salad? Perfectly ripe, at-their-peak tomatoes, fresh and fragrant basil, and gorgeous mozzarella, all topped off with some good olive oil and salt? Heaven.
This dish is the epitome of sophisticated simplicity. It's so easy to put together, and the ingredients are so delicious that they barely need any work to make them shine. It's why everyone loves it so much!
Caprese salad is made with fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, and fragrant basil leaves. The combination of flavors and textures is simply divine!
Why You're Going to Love This Recipe
- Simplicity: It's is a simple dish that's easy to prepare and doesn't require a lot of ingredients. This makes it a great option for busy weeknights or last-minute gatherings.
- Freshness: With juicy tomatoes and fragrant basil leaves, it's a refreshing and flavorful dish that's perfect for summer. It's a great way to enjoy fresh, seasonal produce.
- Flavorful: It's totally bursting with flavor. The creamy mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, and tangy olive oil all come together to create a delicious and satisfying dish.
- Healthy: This dish is a healthy choice that's low in calories and packed with nutrients. It's a great source of calcium, vitamin C, and antioxidants.
- Versatile: It can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or even a light lunch. It's a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in many different settings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Caprese salad is a simple Italian dish made with fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves. It's typically seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Caprese salad originated on the island of Capri in the Campania region of Italy. It's been a popular dish in Italian cuisine for many years.
Yes! It's a healthy option that's low in calories, high in protein, and packed with vitamins and minerals. It's also a great source of calcium.
Fresh mozzarella cheese is typically used. It has a mild, creamy flavor pairs well with the other ingredients.
Yes! It can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it. Just be sure to add the basil leaves right before serving so they don't wilt.
What is Caprese Salad?
Caprese salad is a traditional Italian dish that originated on the island of Capri. The salad consists of three key ingredients: fresh mozzarella cheese, juicy tomatoes, and fragrant basil leaves. It's usually seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil, (although I've been known to add some good Balsamic vinegar), and it's often served as an appetizer or a light lunch.
This salad is great for so many reasons. For one, it's a simple dish that's easy to prepare, but it's also incredibly flavorful and satisfying. The combination of creamy mozzarella, sweet tomatoes, and tangy olive oil is truly sublime. Plus, the fresh basil adds a fragrant note that makes the dish even more delicious.
In addition to being so tasty, it's also a healthy choice. It's low in calories and packed with nutrients like calcium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. So not only is it a tasty dish, but it's also good for you!
What kind of Mozzarella should I Use?
When making this salad, it's best to use fresh mozzarella cheese. Fresh mozzarella has a soft, creamy texture and mild, milky flavor that pairs perfectly with ripe tomatoes and fresh basil.
You can find fresh mozzarella in most grocery stores in the cheese section or near the deli counter. Look for mozzarella labeled "fior di latte" or "mozzarella di bufala" for the best quality. Fior di latte is made from cow's milk, while mozzarella di bufala is made from water buffalo milk and has a slightly richer flavor.
If you can't find fresh mozzarella, you can use shredded mozzarella cheese as a substitute, but the texture and flavor won't be quite the same. So, if at all possible, get the fresh stuff!
Fresh mozzarella cheese: Fresh mozzarella is a soft, creamy cheese that's made from cow's milk. It has a mild, slightly tangy flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients. The creaminess of the cheese also helps to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
Tomatoes: Juicy, ripe tomatoes are a key ingredient. They add sweetness, acidity, and a burst of freshness to the dish. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C and other nutrients.
Fresh basil leaves: Fragrant basil leaves add a delicious aroma and flavor. They have a slightly peppery, sweet taste that complements the other ingredients. Basil is also rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Olive oil: High-quality olive oil is used to dress Caprese salad. It adds a rich, fruity flavor and helps to bring all the ingredients together. Olive oil is also a good source of healthy fats and antioxidants.
Salt and pepper: A sprinkle of salt and pepper is all that's needed to season. Salt enhances the flavors of the other ingredients, while pepper adds a hint of spice.
How to Make It
To make Caprese salad, you'll need some fresh mozzarella cheese, juicy tomatoes, fragrant basil leaves, high-quality olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
First, start by slicing the mozzarella cheese and the tomatoes into even rounds. Use a sharp knife or even a bread knife to make sure your slices are nice and even. I struggle with this always, just an FYI. My slicing skills are notoriously awful.
Next, arrange the cheese and tomatoes on a plate, alternating between the two. This will create a beautiful, colorful pattern that looks almost too pretty to eat! Or, you can opt for a more rustic look like I did here, and just tear the mozzarella apart and spread it over the tomato slices. Either looks great.
Now, it's time to add the basil leaves. You can tear them into small pieces and sprinkle them over the top of the salad or layer them between the cheese and tomato slices.
Finally, drizzle some high-quality olive oil over the top of the salad, and sprinkle it with a little bit of salt and pepper. You don't want to go overboard with the salt and pepper - just a light sprinkle will do. If you're feeling super fancy and have some high-quality Balsamic vinegar, you can go ahead and add it, but it's totally optional.
And that's it! Your Caprese salad is ready to enjoy. It's a simple dish that's easy to prepare, but it's also incredibly flavorful and satisfying. So grab a fork, take a bite, and savor the deliciousness!
Feeling a little bored with the traditional version? Try out these fresh twists:
Balsamic glaze: Drizzling a sweet and tangy balsamic glaze (or just pure Balsamic if you have the good stuff) over the top can add a burst of flavor and make the dish feel more gourmet. It also adds a beautiful decorative touch!
Grilled vegetables: Grilling some vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, or bell peppers and layering them in with the cheese and tomatoes can add some extra texture and flavor.
Pesto: Adding a dollop of fresh pesto can add a rich, herby flavor that pairs perfectly with the other ingredients. You can make your own pesto by blending fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor with some olive oil.
Fruit: If you're feeling adventurous, try adding some fresh fruit to your Caprese salad! Watermelon, peaches (highly recommend the tomato/peach combo), and strawberries all work well with the other flavors in the dish. This makes it a little bit more unique.
Different types of cheese: While fresh mozzarella is the traditional cheese used, you can also experiment with other types of cheese. Goat cheese, feta cheese, or even blue cheese can all work well with the other ingredients, adding a different twist to the classic recipe.
Pinot Grigio: A light and crisp Pinot Grigio is a classic choice. The wine's acidity and citrusy notes complement the fresh flavors of the salad, and it won't overpower the delicate taste of the cheese and tomatoes.
Chianti: If you prefer red wine, a Chianti can be awesome with Caprese salad. The wine's acidity and tannins cut through the creaminess of the cheese, and its earthy notes complement the fresh basil and tomato flavors.
Sauvignon Blanc: Another white wine option is a Sauvignon Blanc. The wine's grassy and herbaceous notes pair well with the fresh basil, and its acidity helps balance out the richness of the cheese.
Rosé: A dry rosé is a versatile wine that pairs well with a wide range of dishes, including this one. Its light and fruity flavors complement the fresh tomatoes and basil, while its acidity helps cut through the richness of the cheese.
Pro Tips & Tricks
Use high-quality ingredients: Since Caprese salad is such a simple dish, the quality of the ingredients really shines through. Use the freshest and highest-quality tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil you can find to ensure the best flavor. I really can't stress this enough. This is definitely the time to spring for the expensive olive oil and the best mozzarella and tomatoes you can possibly find.
Slice the ingredients evenly: To ensure that each bite of your salad has a perfect balance of tomato, cheese, and basil, it's important to slice all of the ingredients evenly. Use a sharp knife to slice the tomatoes and cheese into even rounds, and tear the basil leaves into bite-sized pieces.
Let the salad sit at room temperature: While you can serve Caprese salad straight out of the refrigerator, it's best to let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and makes for a more enjoyable eating experience.
Season with salt and pepper: Don't be afraid to season your Caprese salad with salt and pepper. This helps bring out the flavors of the other ingredients and makes for a more well-rounded dish.
Drizzle with olive oil at the end: To give your Caprese salad a finishing touch, drizzle some high-quality olive oil over the top right before serving. This adds a nice richness and depth of flavor to the dish.
How to Serve It
Grilled chicken or shrimp: Grilled chicken or shrimp can complement the light and fresh flavors of Caprese salad. Marinating the chicken or shrimp in herbs or lemon juice can enhance the flavors even further.
Pasta dishes: A light and fresh pasta dish, such as linguine with cherry tomatoes and basil, can be a great addition to Caprese salad.
Crusty bread: Serving a crusty bread, such as a baguette or ciabatta, can be a great way to soak up the leftover dressing or tomato juices from the Caprese salad.
Grilled vegetables: Grilled vegetables, such as zucchini, bell pepper or eggplant, can add a nice charred flavor and texture to the meal.
- 4-5 tomatoes as ripe as you can find
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella sliced
- ¼ C fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoon olive oil the best you can find
- 2 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- Arrange tomato slices and mozzarella slices (you can also just tear the mozzarella for a more rustic look) alternately on a serving platter.
- Scatter fresh basil leaves over the top.
- Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve and enjoy!