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Classic Italian Caprese Salad

It’s not summer unless you make an Italian Caprese Salad. The perfect appetizer or main dish. It is a simple and refreshing salad that is perfect for hot summer days. The combination of fresh mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, and fragrant basil makes for a delicious and satisfying dish that is sure to please.

Caprese salad in a white dish.


 

Once I get my hands on some fresh tomatoes recipes I love to make are pan fried tomatoes a fresh tomato sauce or a yummy caprese panino and of course this Caprese Salad. Fast and easy and so delicious. That is one of the best things about Summer, all the fresh ingredients. From Veggies to Fruits.

I have to admit it’s probably the only thing I like about Summer. I don’t like the heat or the mosquitoes but a Cold Pasta Salad or a No Bake Dessert can sure help me survive!

Ingredients in a Classic Caprese Salad

  • Tomatoes – ripe but firm tomatoes
  • Mozzarella – fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive Oil – good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Oregano – a pinch or two – this is optional
  • Pepper – some people like to add a dash or two of black pepper
Ingredients for the recipe.

What is fresh mozzarella?

Mozzarella is a fresh cheese with a stretched and soft curd that is intended for immediate consumption. White, shiny and without a rind, it is known by its soft consistency, the aroma of milk and the flavor.

The best known types of mozzarella are buffalo mozzarella, fior di latte mozzarella also known as cow mozzarella, mixed mozzarella and smoked mozzarella.

There are also different shapes of mozzarella such as round, with the head, bite-sized or cherry-shaped, or even braided. There is also light mozzarella, mozzarella with low water content (for pizza) and even lactose free mozzarella.

How to make an Italian Caprese Salad

Remove the tomatoes and the mozzarella from the fridge one hour before preparing.

With a sharp knife slice the mozzarella and drain in a sieve or gently dry with a paper towel, then place spread out on a large plate or serving platter.

Mozzarella slices on a white plate.

If using large tomatoes then slice and paper towel dry if extra moist. If using grape or cherry tomatoes then slice in half.

Place the tomatoes in a bowl and toss with salt, oregano and olive oil. Spoon the tomato mixture over the mozzarella slices and top with fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately. 

the sliced tomatoes and spices in a white bowl.

If you use tomato slices, then place the slices on top of the mozzarella, in a small bowl combine the oil and spices and drizzle it over the tomato and mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with a little extra salt if needed.

The tomatoes on the sliced mozzarella.

If you want the best presentation, try to purchase tomatoes close to the same size as the fresh mozzarella, and slice the round tomatoes and the mozzarella the same thickness (or as close as you can get).

Tips for making a good Caprese Salad

  1. The mozzarella and tomatoes should be at room temperature, so remove both from the refrigerator one hour before preparing.
  2. Towel dry the mozzarella before plating, and the large tomato slices if they are really moist.
  3. Be sure to salt only the tomatoes and not the mozzarella.
  4. Add the fresh basil just before serving.

Where did a Caprese salad originate?

A Caprese salad is originally from Capri, which is located in the Southern Region of Campania, from which it takes its name. It can be served both as an appetizer and as a main dish, buffalo mozzarella is what is usually used although regular fresh mozzarella is fine too.

To make this dish, high quality ingredients are a must. It is a simple, light and healthy summer dish.

Caprese in a white dish with tomatoes and a spoon.

What are the best tomatoes to use?

I like to use firm and crunchy grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes or even slices of tomatoes such as round or oblong or even heirloom tomatoes will work. Just make sure they are ripe but firm.

Can I add Extras?

If you plan on making a true traditional Caprese, then definitely not, no  mayonnaise, vinegar, olives, eggs or sauces of any kind, not even pesto. These extras will cover the balanced taste of the mozzarella and the tomatoes.

But I have to admit it a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze does taste pretty good!

Caprese salad in a white dish.

What to serve with a caprese salad?

A caprese can be served as an appetizer as is or with some fresh bread or as a main dish. If serving as a main dish I like to serve it with a fish dish or even a light meat dish. But be sure to serve it with slices of Italian crusty Bread!

How to Store a Caprese Salad

A Caprese Salad is one of those recipes that should be eaten immediately, but if you do have a little leftover, cover it in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for no more than two days.

Slices of mozzarella with tomatoes on top.

So if you are looking for something fresh and light this Summer Season, I hope you give a Classic Italian Caprese a try and let me know how you like it. Buon Appetito!

Classic Italian Caprese Salad

Rosemary Molloy
It's not summer unless you make an Italian Caprese Salad. Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil never tasted so good. The perfect appetizer or main dish.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Antipasti, Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 79 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1-2 medium-large fresh Mozzarella (or buffalo mozzarella)
  • 2 large firm ripe tomatoes (or 20-25 cherry or grape tomatoes)
  • 2-3 pinches salt
  • ¼-½ teaspoon oregano
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5-10 fresh basil leaves

EXTRAS

  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze

Instructions
 

  • Remove the tomatoes and the mozzarella from the fridge one hour before preparing.
  • Slice the mozzarella and drain in a sieve or gently dry with a paper towel, then place spread out on a large plate.
  • If using large tomatoes then slice and paper towel dry if extra moist. If using grape or cherry tomatoes then slice in half.
  • Place the tomatoes in a bowl and toss with salt, oregano and olive oil. Spoon the tomato mixture over the mozzarella and top with fresh basil leaves. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
  • If you use tomato slices, then place the slices on top of the mozzarella, in a small bowl combine the oil and spices and drizzle it over the tomato and mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with a little extra salt if needed. Enjoy!

If you wish before serving drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar or glaze.

    Notes

     
    A Caprese Salad is one of those recipes that should be eaten immediately, but if you do have a little leftover, cover it in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for no more than two days.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 79kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 200mg | Potassium: 216mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 785IU | Vitamin C: 12.5mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.3mg
    Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

    Updated from June 10, 2019.

    5 Comments

    1. Delicious. I used a small drizzle of balsamic glaze and a sprinkling of salt on the garden fresh tomatoes.

    2. 5 stars
      This Caprise Salad is perfecto & delicioso. We make it several times a week, with the huge tomatoes from our garden. I’ve also used Heirloom tomatoes, and it tasted amazing. Of course, there’s plenty of Basil growing in our garden, as well. This simple salad is our favorite. (I have sometimes lightly drizzled it with reduced Balsamic, which also gave it a terrific pop of flavor….shhhhh).

    3. Another version hot caprese salad cut tomatoes in 1/2 inch thick roast in 400 degree oven until roasted top with mozzarella cheese slices melt a little pull out top with fresh chopped basil serve with rustic bread and olive oil and balsamic for dipping.

    5 from 5 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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