Nothing says summer more than Caprese salad made with the freshest ingredients, especially if the tomatoes and basil come straight from your garden! There are many variations on this salad but here’s how to make Caprese salad the classic, traditional way with simple ingredients. A lot of people these days add vinegar to Caprese salad, but the traditional recipe does not call for it.
Caprese salad originated on the island of Capri in Italy. The Italian name, insalata caprese, means “salad made Capri-style” It is traditionally made with buffalo milk mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and salt. It tastes best with vine-ripened tomatoes. Although it is called a “salad,” it is usually served as an appetizer in Italy.
For the mozzarella, you’ll ideally want to use mozzarella di bufala (mozzarella made from the milk of water buffaloes). It is a soft type of unripened mozzarella that is sold in balls floating in water or whey. You can usually find it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and other gourmet groceries. Nowadays, even some “regular” supermarkets carry buffalo mozzarella. If you can’t find it, you can use mozzarella balls made from cow’s milk. These soft mozzarella balls, whether made from buffalo or cow’s milk, are often called bocconcini, which means “small mouthfulls” in Italian.
Fresh basil, chopped or torn into small pieces by hand
Vine ripened tomatoes (preferably room temperature and straight off the vine)
Buffalo or cow’s milk bocconcini (mozzarella balls)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper (optional)
Cut the tomatoes into 1/8 or 1/4 inch slices. You can use an apple corer to core them first if you want. If you’re using cherry tomatoes, just cut the tomatoes in half.
Cut the mozzarella balls into 1/8 or 1/4 inch slices.
Layer the tomatoes and mozzarella on a serving dish, alternating between cheese and tomatoes. You can also stack them in a tower if you want to do something different. If using cherry tomatoes, just arrange them on the plate among the mozzarella in an attractive fashion.
Take a handful of basil and sprinkle over the plate. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the slices and black pepper if using.
Just before serving, drizzle olive oil over all of the ingredients.
Try to make everything as close to serving time as possible. It will get soggy if it sits too long.
Do you have any tips on how to make Caprese salad? Let us know in the comments section below.