This traditional caprese salad is a blend of ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and seasonings, all drizzled with balsamic glaze. A classic summer salad that is a must-have at any picnic or gathering!
Every spring I plant a variety of tomato plants in my garden in hopes of getting a bounty of fresh tomatoes during the summer. Sometimes I get lucky and get a nice crop, other times my kids pluck all of the tomatoes off the plants before I can get to them! My favorite way to showcase tomatoes is a caprese salad and I’ve been on a mission to create my perfect version of the classic recipe.
What is caprese salad?
Caprese salad means “salad of Capri” and is an Italian dish that consists of ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper. Often time you will also see balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze on this salad. Italian tomato salad can be served with large slices of tomato and mozzarella, or the tomatoes and cheese can be diced into smaller pieces for a more bite sized salad.
How do you make caprese salad?
The first component of this dish is the tomatoes – get the best tomatoes you can. If you don’t grow your own, stop by your local farmer’s market to pick some up. The tomatoes are cut into bite sized pieces, then placed in a bowl with fresh mozzarella balls and basil leaves. A drizzle of olive oil goes over the top, and everything gets tossed together. The finishing touch is a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Tips for the best tomato salad
- You can use vine ripened tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Campari tomatoes or Roma tomatoes for this recipe. Choose whatever is in season and fresh.
- I like to use whole small basil leaves, but you can chop your basil if you prefer.
- I use small mozzarella balls known as ciliegine, they come packed in tubs of water in the deli section. You can also dice a ball of fresh mozzarella into cubes.
- Balsamic glaze is a thickened balsamic vinegar with a richer, more complex taste. You can find this glaze at most grocery stores near the vinegars or salad dressings.
Tomato salad variations
This salad is delicious as-is, but you can add a variety of other ingredients to customize this recipe to your tastes.
- Protein: Add up to 1 cup of grilled diced chicken, chickpeas, cooked shrimp or white beans. You can also add 1/2 cup of cooked crumbled bacon.
- Vegetables: Amp up the veggie factor with the addition of avocado, zucchini noodles, artichoke hearts or roasted peppers.
- Herbs: Add up to 1/4 cup of mixed herbs such as parsley, dill and chives.
How long does Caprese salad last in the fridge?
Caprese salad is best served immediately after it’s made. You can store it in the fridge for up to 6 hours, just be aware that tomatoes tend to get mealy after they’ve been in the refrigerator for an extended period of time.
I make this salad on repeat all summer long; it’s too good not to!
MORE SALAD RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- 5 cups tomatoes cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 1/4 cups small mozzarella balls such as ciliegine
- 1/2 cup small basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze
- Place the tomatoes, mozzarella balls and basil leaves in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Pour the olive oil over the tomato mixture and toss gently to coat.
- Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the salad, then serve immediately.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smithfield. This post was originally published on June 22, 2016 and was updated on July 24, 2019 with new content.