Caprese Salad is hands down one of the major salad favorites of everyone. And why not? Its simple cherry tomatoes, balls of mozzarella and fresh basil all drizzled with a perfect balsamic dressing makes it flavorful and easy!
The only problem with this healthy appetizer is saving it for meal time rather than eating while prepping (which is what I do!).
What is Caprese Salad?
Caprese salad is simply a salad that encompasses tomatoes and mozzarella originating from Capri.
Perfect as a summer salad, you can use full beefsteak tomatoes and mozzarella slices with only seasonings or dive into the more creative versions that contain balsamic vinegar’s, balls of mozzarella, or mixed kinds of tomatoes like we used in this cherry tomato salad.
And make sure you enjoy with one of these perfect summer drink recipes!
Caprese Salad Recipe
The beautiful part of a caprese salad is that all these flavors pair well with chicken or creatives like crumbles of blue cheese or avocado, so do not be afraid to experiment and make it a custom salad that you will love daily! If you prefer, you could also alter this recipe to be a caprese appetizer in the shape of a lady bug. SO cute!!
I consider this recipe more of a base on to bigger and better recipes, although the original I can eat in minutes.
You will need:
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 container, 8 oz, fresh Mozzarella cheese, drained -my package said ciliegine, cherry size
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
Dietary: Heads up! This recipe is Gluten Free and Paleo! Remember by pinning this special PIN!
Disclaimer: Dietary information below provided by Carb Manager. If you are on a KETO or Low Carb diet, always make sure to double check your own information with this or My Fitness Pal based on the brands and weights you use. I am not responsible for the calculations but do try to provide as much information as possible for readers to make informed decisions.
How to make Caprese Salad
For this 10 minutes or less salad, add tomatoes, cheese and basil to a bowl and mix well.
If desired, you can cut the cheese into halves or even quarter them.
I left them whole because it looks prettier/more contrast of large and small and white.
I do like to cut them smaller so that I can easily eat the combination of the three delicious ingredients!
I’ll leave that choice up to you and what you want out of your salad.
Fresh Mozzarella can be pretty expensive so cutting does help it go further into more meals.
As far as the tomatoes go, I used grape tomatoes in my Caprese Salad but you can use cherry as well. Cutting them in half is usually preferred.
For one, grape tomatoes can be different consistency so it lets you know that its a ripe tomato and not a spoiled one, plus it goes farther in a salad and has a better texture.
In a small bowl, add the balsamic and honey. Whisk well.
Drizzle over tomato mixture and serve immediately.
TIP: Spray that tablespoon and then add honey and it slides right out!
Store covered in a refrigerator.
Take the same ingredients and alternate your mozzarella balls, tomatoes and cut up (rather than shredded) basil.
Caprese Salad Recipe with Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
- 1 container 8 oz, fresh Mozzarella cheese, drained
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Add tomatoes, cheese and basil to a bowl and mix well.
- In a small bowl, add balsamic and honey. Whisk well. Drizzle over tomato mixture and serve.
- Store covered in a refrigerator.
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Do not forget to pin this recipe for later!
Playing with a classic – Create your own unique Caprese Salad
As a lover of the classic Caprese Salad, I started to wonder a little bit about its history and how I might be able to experiment with the flavors and ingredients to shake up the standard
Read on – I’ll share what I’ve found!
A Brief History on Caprese Salad
Unfortunately, tracing the history of the Caprese Salad is a little more difficult than one might expect. Some believe the salad was born on the stunningly beautiful island of Capri, while others suggest Campania on the mainland instead. Still others have traced the salad to a Swiss chef interested in using the flavors of Italy.
Regardless of the origin story, in the 1950’s Egyptian King Farouk, visiting Capri on vacation, requested a snack from the hotel kitchen and was served a Caprese sandwich – ruby tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella drizzled with balsamic vinegar and slid between fresh bread. From that point on, Caprese Salad fever was destined to grow.
As tourism exploded in Capri and nearby Naples, everyone was soon making and eating this tasty appetizer. The rest is history.
Choosing your Tomatoes
Although the classic Caprese Salad uses stunning vine-ripened red tomatoes, you shouldn’t feel limited to these alone! Experimenting with other types of tomato varieties can really change the flavor of the overall salad or sandwich. It might even convert any anti-tomato diners to appreciate this salad.
When making Caprese Salad for a crowd, I love to use several different varieties of tomatoes. The unique colors and flavors blend to make a super easy stand-out dish to share.
- While red tomatoes have a rich and robust flavor to them, other colors of tomato have totally different flavors. While pinks are much like reds, orange tomatoes are sweet tasting nearly like eating fruit! The sweet flavor is lovely beside the creamy mozzarella and the balsamic vinegar.
- Yellow tomatoes are less tangy than their red counterparts, partially because they are a lower-acid tomato variety.
- On the other hand, green, purple, and black tomatoes have stronger flavors than reds.
- If you’re interested in making your salad even easier, consider using grape or cherry tomatoes. While you can use them interchangeably, cherry tomatoes tend to be sweeter and more watery than grape tomatoes, but grape tomatoes tend to last longer in the fridge and are easier for growers to get to the grocery store safely.
Since tomatoes are the star of the show in all italian recipes, don’t be afraid to experiment with something new – you just might have a new favorite!
Ah, the Mozzerella!
My favorite part of Caprese Salad is the cheese. I’ll be honest, sometimes not a lot of cheese makes it into the salad because I’m scarfing it all in the kitchen!
Thankfully now that just about every grocery store has a specialty cheese section, there are so many different types of fresh mozzarella to add.
While the original recipe was believed to use cow’s milk fresh mozzarella, buffalo-milk mozzarella has become the modern favorite.
When I’m looking to get this appetizer on the table even faster, I use balled mozzarella – no slicing necessary.
If you’re looking to add a boost of flavor to your salad try smoked mozzarella – not only is the color lovely, the additional flavor from the cheese adds something new and tasty to the salad. The slight smoky flavor plays well with the balsamic vinegar and basil.
Caprese Salad Dressing
The classic Caprese Salad dressing was nothing but a simple drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil. While it’s delicious like this, adding a splash of balsamic vinegar takes the flavors to a whole new level.
However, with the delicate flavors in the salad, you have to be careful not to overdo it with the vinegar. But I am totally in love with that sweet tang drizzled over the tomato and cheese. Choose the best quality balsamic vinegar you can afford, and you’ll find endless recipes to use it in.
If you’re looking to quell a sweet tooth, a balsamic reduction is a perfect option to use. Thick and syrupy, balsamic reduction is made by simmering balsamic vinegar on the stove until it thickens slightly.
Once you whip up a batch you’ll be pouring it over just about everything, I promise!
Topping it Off – Basil
The finishing touch to top off any Caprese Salad is freshy torn basil. Peppery and totally unique, I love basil for the warm spice it gives my taste buds. Plus, I don’t really think the dish is the same thing at all without that minty tang.
- Oregano – minty with a hay-type flavor – and lemony-thyme are great basil alternatives to try. The mild tomatoes and mozzarella could also tolerate stronger flavors like tarragon, dill, or even green onion.
When it comes to herbs, I always encourage people to follow their nose – give the fresh herbs at your grocery store a sniff and try something new!
Whether you go for the classic version or try something a bit more unique, it is hard to beat a fresh Caprese Salad (or sandwich) that you can have on the table in near minutes.
Create your own version with a dash of inspiration and bit of experimentation – no matter what you do, it’s likely to be delicious!