Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad. Sometimes simple is best.

We feel a bit sheepish even posting this recipe, as the Caprese is as simple as it gets (and there are hundreds of recipes online). But we have our own tomatoes and basil, and a good source of local mozzarella, so this is what we are eating. Tomatoes/mozzarella/basil might be our favorite flavor combination, perhaps only matched by potatoes/fat/salt and butter/sugar/flour ;-) . We will eat this dish almost daily until the tomatoes run out…so might as well take some photos and write a post

Just a few ingredients. But a variety of tomatoes and vinegars adds extra pop.

And while the Caprese salad is a very common recipe, there are a few ways to make the most of the dish. Firstly, you need fresh ingredients. Ripe tomatoes and fresh basil are key, as is good quality mozzarella. If you have a good local producer of mozzarella, try their cheese. If not, ask a good cheesemonger for a recommendation, as there are good nationally distributed mozzarella. Secondly, adding salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar will add flavor and depth to the dish- without distracting from the core ingredients. Using two vinegars also brightens the flavor, we like sherry and balsamic vinegars, just not too much. Third, using a variety of tasty, ripe tomatoes provides more flavors and textures- and it looks good too (although most Caprese salads look good). UPDATE: And finally, as Stefan from Stefan’s Gourmet Blog (one of our faves) points out in the comments below, letting the cheese come to room temperature is a big help- it improves both the flavor and texture.

We like the extra color on the plate.

Arrange the tomatoes and season.

We also suggest a few techniques to make the most of the salad. We season each layer as we build the salad, this sounds fussy, but you want salt and pepper on each tomato slice. And a chiffonade of basil combined with whole leaves provides the most basil aroma, which is hard to beat. A chiffonade is simply thin strips of herbs or leafy vegetables. To make a chiffonade, roll some basil leaves into a cylinder and then thinly slice crosswise into thin strips. The slicing will release more of that awesome basil perfume, but also discolors the basil somewhat, so it is best to make the chiffonade just before assembling and serving the dish.

Add the basil.

Add the cheese, oil and vinegar. Season and arrange the whole basil leaves. Serve.

Served with seared skirt steak, a very nice dinner.

And how do you serve a Caprese salad? Just about any way you want. This dish works as a starter, side salad, or even a main course. Put it between a few slices of bread and you have a great sandwich. We like to serve the Caprese as a large side salad along with a small serving of meat or fish- we are particularly fond of seared skirt steak with the Caprese. And while we love our cocktails, a good bright red or white wine will certainly go well with this dish. A sunny day doesn’t hurt either…

Caprese Salad:

Notes Before You Start:

  • Fresh, ripe tomatoes are key. If you don’t have them, don’t bother.
  • Fleur de sel or quality sea salt, with its crunch, is a good salt to use on this dish.

What You Get: One of the best dishes in the world. Seriously.

What You Need: No special equipment required. Just good ingredients.

How Long? Five minutes or less. Slice, arrange, season and serve. Anytime dish when tomatoes are in season.

Ingredients:

(Serves 2 as a large salad, 4 as a side dish or starter)

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of ripe tomatoes (3 large or 5-6 medium tomatoes)
  • 3/4 pound of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt or fleur de sel
  • Fresh black pepper

Assemble:

  1. Wash, core and slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch disks. Slice the cheese into 1/4 inch disks or break the cheese into small pieces. Layer tomato slices on a serving plate and season with the salt and pepper. Add half of the oil and vinegars.
  2. Chiffonade half of the basil leaves and scatter over the tomatoes. Evenly distribute the cheese over the tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on the rest of the oil and the vinegars. Arrange the whole basil leaves on top of the cheese and serve.
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27 thoughts on “Caprese Salad

  1. Thanks for including lifewithalittlespice.com in your related articles! Your tomatoes look fabulous – can’t wait to check out the rest of your blog! :)

  2. Summer outside … and summer here on my screen – this is a priceless salad – like those small black tomatoes ??????. Stunning photos to go with it all again – always a pleasure to end up here.

    • Thanks. The small black tomatoes are a variety of the OSU Blue tomatoes. They are naturally bred (no GMO, just hard work) to have the most antioxidants. Pretty cool…we have the lastest “Indigo” version that has pretty good flavor as well…

  3. That mozzarella looks divine! (And the tomatoes too, of course…) I’ve also been planning to post a caprese salad that I took photos of a while back. Maybe it’s unoriginal but caprese salads are so classic and delicious, I think they never get old.

  4. How pretty! We’re fans of caprese salad in this house as well. Although, I admit to not liking tomatoes, so perhaps I’m more a fan of part-prese salad? ;) DH doesn’t mind the lion’s share of the tomatoes, although we do have to up the cheese since that’s my favorite part!

  5. I love caprese too, and agree that quality ingredients are key! Only one thing to add: make sure to serve the mozzarella at room temperature, or heat it up above a bowl of hot water as described in my recent post. Although it may be obvious to you, mozzarella is often served straight from the fridge.

  6. Perfection. I find that the quality of olive oil is HUGELY important here. I’m partial to a peppery bite in the olive oil on my caprese — great counterpoint to the rich, silky cheese. But grassy has its own charms. :) I’ve served caprese on toasty olive oiled baguette slices as a finger food at parties. It’s always all gone.

    • Exactly! This dish is good enough to make it often and experiment…details make a huge difference.

      We experimented with different vinegars, but we will play around with different olive oils as well…we have enough good tomatoes this year to play around.

      Thx for reading!

  7. Pingback: Simple Garden Recipes: Panzanella « Putney Farm

  8. Pingback: Tomato, Cheddar And Bacon Salad « Putney Farm

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