What is a caprese salad?
Authentic Caprese salad is made with tomatoes, olive oil, basil and fresh mozzarella.
If you order a caprese salad in a restaurant, you are most likely to get a sliced tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, olive oil, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Sometimes restaurants will chop the tomatoes. Sometimes they add onions (which I would never do) and sometimes they make it with pesto instead of chopped basil.
My thoughts about caprese salad are very strong. I’ve had the good fortune to eat a caprese salad and a caprese sandwich in Tuscany. It was simply tomatoes, dried basil, sliced buffalo mozzarella, salt, and olive oil.
This salad in Tuscany added olives and clearly made the cheese the star!
Although this seems like a simple recipe, it’s easy to get it wrong.
However, it’s also easy to get it right if you follow these tips.
Make your salad right before you are ready to serve. You have more leeway with these cherry or grape tomato salads. If you are slicing your tomatoes, wait until just prior to serving.
Use Fresh Mozzarella – Not the rubbery yellow kind. Buffalo mozzarella is exceptional, if you can find it. Most fresh mozzarella will be made with cow’s milk. Take your cheese out twenty minutes in advance of making salad.
Use Fresh Tomatoes – If you can’t find fresh summer tomatoes, use grape or cherry tomatoes as I did here. Do not refrigerate tomatoes.
Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Don’t skimp on having a good olive oil in your pantry.
Use Sea Salt – Salt wakes up fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes.
Use Fresh Basil – Garnish with basil right before serving or it will turn brown.
I don’t like vinegar on tomatoes and cheese. I don’t like onions anywhere near this. I do want only the freshest basil, but I lean strongly on making a pesto, especially if you are carting a caprese salad to a party or potluck. I only use fresh mozzarella as the yellow store bought mozzarella has no flavor.
Caprese salad made with wild wonders, cherry and grape tomatoes is perfect as a party dish when you’re out of time or you don’t know how to cook.
Try Making a Caprese Sub for Parties
This caprese sandwich is made with a fried pepperoni.
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- 1 pint Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Balls
- 1 pint Tomatoes (use a variety of cherry, grape or wild wonders)
- Pistou (Recipe Below) enough to cover tomatoes and cheese
- 2 handfulls basil
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- If using large tomatoes, cut in thick slices, serve immediately.
- If using wild wonders, cherry or grape, no need to slice.
- Set cheese out about 30 minutes in advance to enjoy the flavor and texture.
- Toss with cheese, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper.
- If making pistou, blend garlic basil and olive oil together. Use this for salad.