Dive into the freshness of Italian cuisine with our Classic Caprese Salad recipe, an easy yet sophisticated blend of ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, fragrant basil, and a special kiss of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and seasonings.
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Ever been in one of those Italian cafes, with the sunlight filtering through, looking at a plate that’s too pretty to eat? Well, that plate was probably a caprese salad. Did it have fresh basil, creamy mozzarella, and ripe tomatoes? If you answered yes, it’s a caprese — super simple but definitely not your ordinary salad because it’s a total vibe of Italy in every bite.
Now, you might be thinking, how is this different from other salads? Well, this salad has no greens. There’s no filler, just killer. And at the heart of it is the mozzarella di bufala that’s kind of a local celeb in Italy. It’s similar to the mozzarella used in my Oven-Baked Mozzarella Sticks or my recipe for the BEST Frittata but it has its own unique Italian vibe. But you know what a caprese salad is really about? It’s about how sometimes, keeping things basic and easy brings out the best flavors. A reminder that too much of anything can, honestly, be too much.
Is A Classic Caprese Salad Healthy?
You bet it is! It’s full of fresh, all-natural ingredients that bring some serious health benefits. Those juicy tomatoes? They’re packed with vitamins A and C. And the mozzarella? Calcium and protein. Even the olive oil provides heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. But, like everything, a caprese salad should be enjoyed in moderation.
With only a few ingredients, you’ll love how quickly this salad comes together!
- 1 cup small tomatoes, halved
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella, diced
- fresh basil leaves
- extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
- pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella. Arrange the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil leaves on a plate.
Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Tips & Tricks to Making a Perfect Caprese Salad
The good news is that this recipe is simple, requiring only a few ingredients. This, however, puts a lot of pressure on those ingredients. So please get the freshest tomatoes you can, high-quality mozzarella, and vibrant, green basil for the best results.
You can use any type of tomato, though I recommend small, sweet varieties like cherry or grape tomatoes. They provide a burst of flavor in each bite and look good on the plate.
You need to go with fresh mozzarella for a classic Caprese salad. While cow’s milk mozzarella works fine, mozzarella di bufala (made from buffalo milk) will give your salad that Italian accent.
Because you’re actually eating the olive oil (and not merely cooking with it) you’ll notice its taste immediately. So use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. The balsamic vinegar will add a sweet contrast. I sometimes use a balsamic reduction, it has a stronger taste.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper may seem basic but they can draw out the natural flavors of your tomatoes and cheese.
Yep, no meat comes close to this caprese salad, so vegetarians can dine worry-free.
Absolutely! While I’m a huge fan of the classic caprese, you can jazz up this dish however you want. Add some sliced avocado for a creamy twist, or try out a different cheese like burrata. Fruits like peaches or strawberries will add a nice sweetness to the savory goodness. If you want to serve this salad as an entrée, consider some protein in the form of grilled chicken or shrimp.
Technically, yes, but trust me, fresh basil leaves, with their aromatic, vibrant flavor, are preferable.
You may require better-quality tomatoes. Go for the ripe, in-season ones. If your tomatoes are kinda bland, just let them sit on your kitchen counter for a few days. They’ll level up in flavor before you know it.
If raw tomatoes aren’t your thing, try roasted tomatoes. They’ll soften up and get super sweet, which you might enjoy more.
The classic caprese salad is extraordinarily versatile, which is my way of saying, “Serve it with whatever you want!” It can be enjoyed as a stand-alone lunch, an appetizer at your next dinner party, or as a side to grilled chicken, roasted fish, or even a hearty lasagna if you’re going all out on the Italian theme.
Make-Ahead and Storage
If you want to make your caprese salad in advance, just save the olive oil, vinegar, and all the tasty seasonings until the last minute to keep everything fresh. Any leftovers can be popped in an airtight container and kept in the fridge. They should be eaten within a couple of days. I enjoy my caprese salads cold, so no reheating should be necessary.
- 1 cup small tomatoes halved
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella diced
- fresh basil leaves
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- balsamic vinegar for drizzling
- pinch of Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Slice the tomatoes and the mozzarella.
- Arrange the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil leaves on a plate.
- Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve!
Tips & Notes:
Recipes written and produced on Food Faith Fitness are for informational purposes only.