I was first introduced to caprese by my wonderful Italian mother-in-law. I’ve always loved fresh tomatoes, but paired with thick slices of mozzarella, whole basil leaves & drizzled with olive oil & balsamic? My life literally changed with my first bite. I never knew food could be so good. It was a never-ending love affair from then on.
I’ve made it for almost every event in my life since then. I’ve done it in several forms- the classic way with thick slices of vine-ripened tomatoes & whole mozzarella, mini versions on toothpicks for easy snacking & in a big bowl as a salad, like this. I make it this way for my self almost monthly. I’ll divvy it up into containers & eat it all week for lunch. You simply cannot beat the freshness of these flavors y’all!
All you need to whip some up is cherry tomatoes, or grape or any small tomato. There are a lot of varieties out there right now! Stick to the bright, red ones though. I’ve tried the yellow ones in caprese, not my fave.
You’ll also need mozzarella balls, which come in a deli style container by the gourmet cheeses. They’re floating in some sort of unknown liquid…you’ll need to remove them from the container & dry them with a paper towel.
Also, you will need fresh basil leaves. DO NOT USE DRIED BASIL. If you even think about doing that, you not deserve to make this salad or enjoy it’s gloriousness. It’s not one of those things you can substitute. Actually, you can’t substitute anything in this salad. It’s an all or nothing kind of deal.
In addition to the main characters, you’ll need olive oil, balsamic vinegar (a reduction is nice), salt & pepper. The better quality olive oil/balsamic you use, the better tasting this will be. Aka, if you want to impress someone, splurge for those fancy, high-priced oils. It makes a world of difference here. You can use the regular stuff, of course. It will still blow your mind.
I halve the mozzarella balls & sometimes halve the tomatoes. That’s all up to you, really. Chop the basil up too.
Drizzle on the olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Stir things up, then add more if you feel like it.
Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Make it pretty with some extra basil leaves & stick it in the fridge till it’s time to eat.
If you’ve never tried caprese, I urge you to pick up the ingredients next time you’re at the store! You will not regret it. You will, although, regret not eating it for the last however many years of your life. Trust me. This is the good stuff.
Feel free to jazz things up with some variations. You can add red onion, avocado, bacon even sounds good? Turn it into a heartier meal by adding cooked tortellini or pancetta! Pair the salad with anything on the grill for a carefree summer meal!
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1- 8 oz container mozzarella balls, halved
- 2-3 sprigs of basil, chopped
- 1/4 c + olive oil
- 1/4 c + balsamic vinegar
- salt & pepper to taste
- Throw all ingredients into a bowl together & drizzle with olive oil & balsamic vinegar. Start with 1/4 c of each (or less if you prefer) & mix together. If salad still seems dry, add more oil/vinegar. Season with salt & pepper. Chill until serving.
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