Ripe summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and olive oil is all you need for this Italian caprese salad, also known as insalata caprese.
Living just a short car ride from the Italian border, it’s no surprise that you’ll often find Italian dishes like this tasty tomato and mozzarella salad on my plate. This salad is so simple and yet so delicious and full of fresh flavors.
Ever since visiting the island of Capri, where this salad originates, caprese is my favorite summer salad!
This is a dish that you hardly need a recipe for, but if you have never made it before, I hope the instructions will help you tackle your first classic Italian caprese salad.
Source the best ingredients
A dish with such simple ingredients needs the highest quality ingredients to taste amazing. This recipe is meant for summertime, when tomatoes are most flavorful. I only make this salad a few months a year for this fact.
To make a caprese salad you’ll need:
Tomatoes: The most important ingredient! Only use ripe, seasonal, peak-season tomatoes whether that’s organic heirloom tomatoes or plum tomatoes.
Fresh mozzarella cheese: Use soft balls that are packed in water.
Basil: Only use fresh basil leaves. If you call an herb garden your own, that’s awesome. Otherwise, the supermarket herb pots are great too! Big fan here.
Olive oil: You should use good-quality, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil. This type of olive oil is less processed than refined olive oil and has more flavor. It has a strong, fruity and slightly bitter taste, that pairs well with the juicy tomatoes and mild mozzarella. In fact, I think it’s even more important than the mozzarella you use since it’s the only seasoning besides the salt.
Salt: I use fine sea salt but if you prefer, use the flaky kind.
Balsamic vinegar (optional): Original caprese salad is made without balsamic vinegar. But a small drizzle adds a wonderful touch. A balsamic reduction (balsamic glaze) tastes even better than regular balsamic vinegar. To make it, simply cook down balsamic vinegar by a third or by half, depending on how thick you like it.
This simple Italian caprese salad only needs 4 ingredients. It’s the perfect summer salad! Caprese salad is usually served as an appetizer but makes a great main dish too - I love it with baguette or slices of toasted white bread.
Only use ripe, peak-season tomatoes whether that’s organic heirloom tomatoes or plum tomatoes. It makes all the difference!
Recipe: Ursula | lilvienna.com
- 3-4 medium tomatoes
- 8 oz (225 g) fresh mozzarella (packed in water)
- A handful fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- Fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (optional, see note)
- Place the tomatoes on a cutting board with the stem facing left or right. Cut them into slices with a serrated knife.
- Drain the mozzarella and slice it using a chef’s knife (non-serrated).
- Arrange the tomato slices and mozzarella slices on a platter. Place fresh basil leaves in between the layers and some on top.
- Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, if using, and sprinkle with salt. Enjoy!
Original caprese salad is made without balsamic vinegar. But a small drizzle adds a wonderful touch. A balsamic reduction (balsamic glaze) tastes even better than regular balsamic vinegar. To make it, simply cook down balsamic vinegar by a third or by half, depending on how thick you like it.
Some chefs insist on using buffalo mozzarella. But it’s something I just can’t find around here. Has anyone else tried it?
No, in my opinion it is not necessary at all. Regular mozzarella works just as well. I personally prefer cow’s milk mozzarella and I don’t eat buffalo mozzarella any more since there is more animal cruelty involved with the latter. Best, Ursula