Caprese Salad is a classic Italian recipe that's perfect for summer. It is easy to make with layers of ripe tomato, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. This simple dish is refreshing with lots of vibrant flavors!
What is a Caprese Salad?
Insalata Caprese is a traditional Italian recipe from the island of Capri. It has been loved in America and around the world for generations. This rustic Caprese is a simple layered mozzarella tomato basil salad with the drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and little salt and pepper. That's it! Nothing complicated, but very fresh and tasty!
Why you will love this recipe?
It is a fantastic no-cook recipe for summer. The salad is easy to prepare in a few minutes, and it includes just a handful of basic goods!
The bold tomato is delicious with creamy mozzarella cheese. Fresh basil and a drizzle of oil make the salad taste light and elegant.
Make the best Caprese recipe as a starter or side dish. It is perfect to pair with Italian-inspired mains!
P.S: If you have some extra summer tomatoes or fresh basil left with you after making this recipe, then try these amazing fresh salads:
There are only 4 ingredients in a classic Caprese salad recipe, so each will stand out! Use high quality items for the best taste.
Plum Tomatoes: Choose ones that are firm but not hard. Deep, ripe red ones will have the most sweet flavor.
Fresh Mozzarella: This cheese is tender but also a bit creamy. It has a rather mild flavor to let the tomato and basil shine.
Fresh Basil: One of my favorite herbs to pair with tomato. Adds a delicious punch of fresh, earthy flavor to the salad.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Drizzle lightly over the layers as a simple dressing.
How to make Caprese Salad?
- Firstly, slice the tomatoes and cheese into thin, ¼ inch discs. Then layer the slices on a plate.
- Next, gently tuck the basil leaves between the layers.
- Lightly drizzle the extra virgin olive oil on top of the salad. Each piece of the cheese and tomato slices should have a bit of the EVOO.
- Lastly, sprinkle on a bit of salt and freshly cracked pepper.
- Large, ripe and firm tomatoes are the most juicy. Therefore choose ones at the peak of being ripe. They should be only slightly soft when you give a squeeze.
- Allow them to sit at room temperature before slicing. Room temp tomatoes stay juicy when sliced.
- I suggest you use high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Indeed, the better the oil the tastier the salad will be.
- I prefer to use small whole basil leaves. The "baby" basil leaves look pretty and have really bright flavor! However, chopped large leaf basil is also delicious.
Swap mozzarella with soft, creamy burrata or bocconcini. Mini mozzarella balls also work well.
Further, you can substitute cow's milk cheese with a vegan cheese. Then this is a dairy-free recipe.
Although you can, without cheese it is not considered a Caprese. But if you want a cheese-free summer recipe try this great Tomato Basil Salad.
I recommend you serve the salad when it's freshly made. You can prep the ingredients in advance. However, it is best to wait to assemble until ready to serve.
Keep the tomato and cheese slices in separate containers. Store in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Use any tomatoes you like. Grape, cherry, and heirloom tomatoes are all good options for this Caprese.
- Add scratch made Basil Pesto on top. It brings a delicious punch of bold flavor.
- Drizzle a tangy balsamic glaze or reduction over the salad. While not traditional for an Italian fresh mozzarella tomato basil salad, it is delicious!
- To give the recipe some Tex-Mex flavor, add slices of creamy avocado.
- Sprinkle on minced garlic, herbs of choice, or my Italian Seasoning.
- Traditionally this Caprese salad has just a drizzle of olive oil, but you can include other dressings you like. Apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar bring nice bite to the cheese and tomato.
Wondering what to serve with the best Caprese salad? There are so many options!
Pair with hearty main proteins like steak, chicken, or Italian BBQ. It lightens up Italian-inspired comfort foods, like Chicken Alfredo Pasta. And, of course, spaghetti with meatballs.
For an easy summer meal, simply add the salad on toasted sourdough bread. Top with slices of avocado on toast for a fun play on bruschetta!
Chop the tomato mozzarella Caprese and toss it with pasta. The cheese will melt a bit in hot pasta. Otherwise enjoy as a cold dish in chilled pasta salad!
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Caprese Salad Recipe
- 4 medium Ripe Tomatoes (sliced into ¼" thickness)
- 10 oz Fresh Mozzarella Ball (sliced into ¼" thickness)
- ½ cup Fresh Basil Leaves
- Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for drizzling)
- Start with layering the slices of tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on a salad serving platter. Tuck the whole basil leaves in between the layers of tomato and mozzarella. Salad should be arranged in such a way so that you can see layers of all three ingredients.
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top of the salad (a little bit should be on each slice). Sprinkle salt and freshly cracked pepper.
- If you prefer to go for a variation, choose and add the ingredients from the list.
- Choose Large, ripe and firm tomatoes are the most juicy and at the peak of being ripe. They should be only slightly soft when you give a squeeze.
- Allow them to sit at room temperature before slicing as this will keep them juicy when sliced.
- I suggest you use high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the better the oil the tastier the salad will be.
- I prefer to use small whole basil leaves. The "baby" basil leaves look pretty and have really bright flavor! That said, chopped large leaf basil is also delicious.