The easiest summer salad which stars few, simple ingredients. All you need are tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, some olive oil and a balsamic glaze. Season with salt (and pepper if you like) and you will wonder why you are not eating caprese salad every day of your life!
Why this recipe works
Making a caprese salad is the easiest way to get something gorgeous and delicious on the table. There are literally no cooking skills required – all you need to be able to do is slice tomatoes and mozzarella into rounds and finely chop some basil.
There is no right way to assemble a caprese salad, so you can let your imagination dictate how you plate it. Typically the tomato and cheese slices overlap; this is helpful to ensure that everything fits on the plate!
Some people like to leave their basil leaves whole. I actually prefer to cut them into slivers. This way, you get basil with every bite. Also, cutting the leaves releases the beautiful oil from the basil and the flavour and aroma even more.
Tomatoes – Vine-ripened, fresh, gorgeous tomatoes are key to making an amazing caprese salad. Make sure that they are at room temperature. In fact, tomatoes should never be stored in the refrigerator!
Mozzarella – Fresh mozzarella is what is used in this recipe. You can usually purchase it in balls sold in a liquid or brine. The flavour is mild and the texture is firm but creamy.
Basil – Fresh basil adds so much aroma and flavour to the caprese salad. I like to chop my basil as opposed to leaving the leaves whole because this helps release the aromatic oils of the basil, making the salad more fragrant and delicious.
Olive oil – Only the best quality olive oil should top your caprese salad. Try to find Greek olive oil if you can; I think that this is the best option available.
Balsamic glaze – Made with balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency, balsamic glaze adds sweetness and some acidity to the tomatoes and mozzarella. You can certainly make your own by boiling balsamic vinegar until it coats the back of spoon, or you can buy it in most well stocked grocery stores, or online.
If you do not have balsamic glaze (and do not want to try making it) you can use a small amount of balsamic vinegar. Alternatively, you can combine 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar, with 2 teaspoons of maple syrup. This will have the consistency of a glaze, and a close flavour.
How to make
Making a caprese salad is really quick and easy. It is one of my favourite ways to get something fresh, gorgeous and delicious on the table.
- Wash and dry your tomatoes and basil.
- If your soft mozzarella was in a liquid or a brine, pat it dry with paper towels.
Using a serrated knife, slice your tomatoes width-wise, meaning turn your tomatoes onto their side so that the stem is facing right or left, and cut down. Your slices can be as thick or thin as you like – I try to keep them at about 1/3 inch.
Slice your mozzarella ball into rounds a little thinner than your tomatoes.
Finely chop your basil into slivers.
Arrange your caprese salad by placing tomatoes and mozzarella on a plate or platter, overlapping the ingredients.
Sprinkle the basil over top, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze and then season with salt, and pepper if desired.
How to serve
Caprese salad is the perfect summer salad. It is light and fresh and goes really well with grilled meats or fish. I like to serve a caprese salad when I make delicious cedar planked salmon or grilled steak. Often times I also serve caprese salad with some homemade bread, a bowl of olives and some cucumber spears as a light lunch or dinner.
Frequently asked questions
How should I store my tomatoes.
Great question, and so important! Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature until they are fully ripened. Then, they should be eaten as soon as possible! Some people argue that once ripened, your tomatoes can be kept in a refrigerator or cool cellar to preserve them longer. I have found that even ripe, and very ripe, tomatoes keep well on the counter for at least a week. For this reason, I never keep my tomatoes in the fridge.
The key however is never to store unripe tomatoes in the refrigerator. The cold will hinder their ripening, and will significantly impact their flavour, and texture, for the worse.
What is the best way to slice tomatoes?
The easiest way to slice tomatoes is to use a serrated knife. Any serrated knife will do, whether it is a bread knife, or a steak knife. Use this same knife to cut through the soft mozzarella.
What kind of mozzarella cheese do you use in a caprese salad?
For this salad you really do need to spend the extra money to get fresh mozzarella. The hard stuff that you grate and put on pizza is not going to cut it here. Fresh mozzarella is typically sold in balls and it is soft and creamy.
What is another name for fresh mozzarella?
Fresh mozzarella is also called Fior di Latte Mozzarella. It is made from full fat water buffalo or cow’s milk and is either salted or unsalted.
How far ahead can you make caprese salad?
This salad is best assembled right before serving.
This recipe for caprese salad will serve 2 people as a side dish. The recipe can easily be doubled, tripled or even halved.
When the tomatoes are ripe, there are so many amazing ways to celebrate them. Here are a few of my other favourite recipes, starring tomatoes.
Greek horiatiki or village salad
Of course, Greek salad recipe is on the list of recipes that star tomatoes that I just love. Learn how to make the perfect authentic Greek village salad – you won’t fine any lettuce here!
Tomato and mango salad
This may seem like an odd combination, but trust me – it isn’t. You are going to absolutely love the fresh, bright flavour of this tomato and mango salad recipe.
Peach, tomato and feta salad
When fresh peaches and vine-ripened tomatoes are available, grab some great Greek feta and make this gorgeous peach, tomato and feta salad. I cannot express enough how amazing it is! People will be curious, and once they taste it, they will certainly go back for more!
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- 1 Serrated knife
- 4 tomatoes
- 170 grams fresh mozzarella ball
- 1 tbsp fresh basil, slivered
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic glaze
- salt and pepper to taste pepper is optional
- Slice your tomatoes into rounds approximately ⅓ inch thick - a serrated knife is the best for this. See Recipe Note.4 tomatoes
- Slice your mozzarella ball into rounds as well; these can be slightly thinner than your tomato rounds. Depending upon how large your mozzarella ball is, you may want to cut your rounds in half circles.170 grams fresh mozzarella ball
- Arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella on a plate or platter, overlapping the ingredients. Top with slivered basil and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Season with salt (and pepper) to taste.1 tbsp fresh basil, slivered, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic glaze, salt and pepper to taste