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.
Once I get my hands on some fresh tomatoes recipes I love to make are pan fried tomatoes or a fresh tomato sauce 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.
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
- Oregano – a pinch or two – this is optional
- Pepper – some people like to add a dash or two of black pepper
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.
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.
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.
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
- The mozzarella and tomatoes should be at room temperature, so remove both from the refrigerator one hour before preparing.
- Towel dry the mozzarella before plating, and the large tomato slices if they are really moist.
- Be sure to salt only the tomatoes and not the mozzarella.
- 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.
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!
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.
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
- 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
- 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
- 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.
Updated from June 10, 2019.