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I have many variations of Caprese salad recipes here on Wholesome Yum (ideas below!), but recently realized that I don’t have the regular, classic version that I actually make most often. So, here it is — and it’s the ultimate summer salad! Juicy, fresh tomatoes, leafy basil, and creamy fresh mozzarella combine with the best Caprese salad dressing. The result? An iconic side dish for any Italian meal! And unlike other Italian sides like marinated artichoke salad, this one needs no lettuce.
What Is Caprese Salad?
Caprese salad is a simple, lettuce-free salad that originated from the island of Capri in Italy. (You might see it listed on a restaurant menu as insalata Caprese, which translates to “the salad from Capri.”) With thick slices of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil, its colors bear resemblance to the Italian flag.
What Does Caprese Salad Taste Like?
The flavor of Caprese salad recipes is unlike any other. The natural sweetness of juicy tomatoes, creamy cheese, peppery basil, and sweet balsamic vinegar combine to make a fresh summery dish.
Is Caprese Salad Healthy?
Yes, salad Caprese makes a perfect healthy side dish for summer. With just a few simple ingredients, a good dose of veggies, and nutritious extra virgin olive oil, it checks many boxes for a healthy addition to any meal.
Caprese Salad Ingredients
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for tomato Caprese salad, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Tomatoes – Find the best tomatoes you can. Larger sizes are for better slicing. For even more fresh flavor, get heirloom tomatoes or in-season tomatoes at your local farmers market.
- Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – Use fresh, whole milk mozzarella for classic presentation. These often come in a pre-sliced ball for convenience. Avoid low-moisture varieties. Buffalo mozzarella would also be delicious.
- Fresh Basil Leaves – Larger leaves work better to match the size of the tomatoes and mozzarella.
- Olive Oil – Since it makes up the bulk of the Caprese salad dressing, use extra virgin olive oil for best flavor and classic taste.
- Balsamic Glaze – For drizzling. Although you can find pre-made balsamic reduction at many stores, you can also make homemade balsamic glaze. It’s as simple as reducing balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
How To Make Caprese Salad
This section shows how to make easy Caprese salad with balsamic, including step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Slice. Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices (8 slices of each).
- Arrange. Layer tomato, mozzarella, and basil on a serving platter.
- Finish. Drizzle the salad with oil and balsamic vinegar glaze. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top to taste.
- Caprese Salad With Cherry Tomatoes – Swap tomato slices for halved cherry or grape tomatoes. Cut mozzarella into bite-sized pieces (or use fresh mozzarella balls) and toss salad instead of alternating ingredients.
- Add Avocado – Slice avocado thinly and alternate with other ingredients. You could also make this chopped avocado Caprese salad recipe.
- Add Pesto – Spoon or drizzle basil pesto on top of finished dish. This is in addition to usual dressing for Caprese salad.
- Serve Over Greens – Chop ingredients into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a bed of kale, spinach, or romaine. Then, add more dressing to taste.
- Add Chicken – Add chicken and greens with this chicken Caprese salad recipe.
- Add Peaches – Swap one tomato for a ripe peach. Slice and prepare as usual.
- Turn It Into Pasta Salad – Chop ingredients into bite sized pieces. Then, toss with cooked and cooled pasta of choice. Finally, dress as usual, adding more to taste if desired.
This recipe for Caprese salad tastes best when it’s fresh. However, you can cover and store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days. (If possible, store without the dressing.) Avoid freezing this salad.
What To Serve With Caprese Salad
If it has Italian flavors, it can go with this dish! Try these easy pairings.
- Italian-style chicken – This salad pairs perfectly with creamy lemon Parmesan chicken, baked balsamic chicken thighs, and Mediterranean chicken.
- Healthy pizza – Serve this salad with portobello mushroom pizza, mini eggplant pizza, or cauliflower pizza crust.
- Italian-inspired mains – Dish up this salad with veal scallopini, roasted cauliflower parmesan, or slow cooker chicken cacciatore.
- Healthy noodles – Try this salad with healthy chicken Alfredo, stuffed spaghetti squash lasagna boats, or shrimp scampi with zucchini noodles.
More Caprese Salad Recipes
The classic flavor of Caprese shines in so many dishes! Try these other easy versions:
Caprese Salad Recipe
Caprese Salad Recipe (5 Minutes!)
This easy Caprese salad recipe with dressing combines simple, fresh ingredients to create an incredible summery side dish. Ready in 5 minutes!
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Make balsamic glaze according to the instructions here. (Alternatively, use store-bought for true 5-minute salad prep!)
Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices, for a total of 8 slices of each.
Arrange the tomato slices, mozzarella slices, and basil leaves on a platter, alternating them.
Drizzle the Caprese salad with olive oil and balsamic glaze.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Last Step: Leave A Rating!
Serving size: 1/4 entire recipe (2 pieces each of tomato, mozzarella, and basil)
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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