Caprese Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella

Italian caprese salad is a summer classic! Make it extra special with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. This is the BEST way to enjoy summer tomatoes!

Summer is tomato and basil season, and there is nothing easier to make than a fresh Caprese salad.

What are the Ingredients for Caprese Salad?

Caprese salad is made with just three basic ingredients—tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, and perhaps add a dash of balsamic vinegar over the top to bring all the flavors together.

That’s it! Easy.

Since there are so few ingredients, it’s important that they are of the highest quality you can find. Use tomatoes grown and picked in season such as heirlooms (summer to late summer), fresh mozzarella (buffalo mozzarella if you can find it), and a high quality robust extra virgin olive oil.

What are heirloom tomatoes?

Heirloom tomatoes are what tomatoes used to be before all of the variety and flavor were bred out of them so they could be more easily transported in trucks to supermarkets.

You can find them at farmers’ markets, Whole Foods and many supermarkets these days, or you can grow your own. They come in many shades of red, yellow, orange, and green, and are somewhat oddly shaped compared to everyday beefsteak tomatoes.

Heirloom tomatoes bruise more easily than conventional tomatoes, so you have to handle them with a little more care. They cost more, too, but they’re worth it! They’re juicy and have wonderful flavor.

How To Check If Your Olive Oil is Good

All oil goes rancid if left to sit around. So taste your olive oil! If it tastes like old peanuts or crayons, it’s rancid—throw it out. If it doesn’t taste like much of anything, and feels greasy in your mouth? It’s lost all the quality attributes that allowed it to be labeled “extra.”

A fresh high quality olive oil should taste fresh, and often peppery or grassy.

heirloom tomatoes

heirloom tomatoes

What to Serve with Caprese Salad?

Caprese salad is the quintessential summer salad, perfect for a light lunch, an alfresco weeknight dinner, or backyard gathering. It can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish, and goes well with anything coming off the grill, like grilled chicken, grilled steak, or grilled fish.

How Far Ahead Can you Make Caprese Salad?

Make Caprese salad just before you plan to serve it. Tomatoes can become mealy and lose their flavor if refrigerated for too long.

Soon after you salt the tomatoes they will start to release their juices, so if you have to make ahead, wait until serving to sprinkle with salt.


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