Our Caprese salad recipe is meant for summertime when the tomatoes are at their plumpest and sweetest. This Italian-style salad is created with a handful of fresh ingredients and couldn’t be easier to make.
Sliced ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella are assembled on a salad plate or platter. They are then topped with herbs and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic dressing. It’s elegant, juicy, creamy, and takes your table on a fresh Italian vacation.
What Is Caprese Salad?
Caprese (pronounced “cah-preh-zseh”) is a classic Italian summer salad. The name literally means Capri — the isle where the salad is believed to have originated.
It is typically made from sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil leaves, olive oil dressing, and a touch of either balsamic or honey. It features the colors of the Italian flag: red, green, and white.
Traditionally, Caprese salad is served as an appetizer and can be enjoyed any time of the day. It is one form of a Caprese ‘saga,’ a collection of Caprese-style dishes that also contains pizza, pasta, and even sandwiches.
Is Caprese Salad Healthy?
Yes, our Caprese salad is healthy.
Tomatoes, one of the main ingredients in the salad, are outstanding sources of vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. The fruit is considered an ideal food for those who want to improve vision, skin health, and digestive health.
Besides that, tomatoes are also rich in essential nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. Lycopene — a valuable antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color — has up to twice the free-radical neutralizing capability as beta-carotene. By protecting our cells against the harmful effects of free radicals, lycopene helps prevent the body from developing cancer or heart diseases.
Nutritionally, each serving of our Caprese salad contains only 126 calories, making it an ideal light appetizer or nutritious snack if you’re keeping an eye on your weight. We adjusted the amount of dressing and mozzarella cheese that went in, ensuring that the sodium and saturated fat content follows our healthy eating guidelines.
Caprese is incredibly easy to make and requires only a handful of basic ingredients. The most important thing is the quality and freshness of each element. Here’s what you need:
- Tomatoes: Go with the freshest and juiciest tomatoes you can find, be they your garden-grown tomatoes or those from a local store. A good tomato should feel like a dense water balloon that is about to burst, with no hint of greenness or dark spots.
- Besides the big, meaty tomatoes, we also love to use cherry tomatoes. They tend to be sweeter and come in different colors, making our salad plate more visually appealing.
- Mozzarella Cheese: You can buy your cheese either pre-sliced or whole; both styles make for creamy and tasty additions to the salad. Just note that all the mozzarella slices should be the same thickness to maintain consistency in texture and appearance.
- Basil: Caprese salad is all about the fresh ingredients, so it’s best to avoid dark, wilted, or bruised leaves. We love vibrantly green leaves; their fresh aroma will make you feel like you’re wandering through an herb garden.
- Dressing: The olive oil balsamic dressing is the finishing touch to complete our Caprese salad recipe. Please read on for more detail about our homemade Caprese dressing.
Caprese Salad Dressing
The dressing for this recipe is an intense sweet-tangy blend that is drizzled over the salad. A quick splash is enough to complement and meld all the flavor on the plate into a crowd-pleasing appetizer.
We started the Caprese dressing with olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is a healthier alternative since it’s less processed and has more flavor than other variations. Then add salt and pepper to taste to set the foundation.
You don’t need to go with an expensive balsamic vinegar since the store-bought type is decent enough to balance the flavor. We recommend starting with a small amount of vinegar. You can always add more later!
Honey is optional and can be added based on how sweet or tart your balsamic vinegar happens to be. Finally, we added Italian seasoning for an aromatic finishing touch.
How to Make Caprese Salad
Sometimes simple ingredients and humble methods can create the tastiest dishes, and this Caprese salad is proof.
Make the dressing.
Assemble the salad and serve.
How Long Will This Salad Last in the Fridge?
Given its fresh ingredients and dairy, Caprese salad is best eaten as soon as possible. You can keep it in the fridge before or after serving, but it should stay there no longer than 24 hours. After that, the tomatoes will begin to release their moisture, making the salad soggy and less tasty.
What to Eat With Caprese Salad
The internationally adored Caprese layered with ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil can be easily paired with other dishes. Consider your morning toast a blank canvas waiting to be topped with Caprese salad and a poached egg. It’s a contrasting fresh flavor to match the simple crispy bread and creamy egg.
When you’re tired and need a quick side for your protein-based dinner, give your chicken, beef, or pork main dish a mouthwatering boost with Caprese. Light and packed with summer ingredients, the salad is a perfect palate cleanser to cut the richness and satisfy your taste buds.
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Caprese Salad Recipe
There are only four elements to our Caprese salad recipe: tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and dressing. All you have to do is put them all together.
- prep TIME 5 mins
- total TIME 5 mins
- COURSE Side Dish
- CUISINE Italian
- SERVINGS servings
- CALORIES 126 kcal
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsps salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 16 oz cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 3 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
- 0.5 oz fresh basil leaves
Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsps salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp honey, and 1 tbsp olive oil.
Arrange the salad and serve: Layer 16 oz cherry tomatoes, 3 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, and 0.5 oz fresh basil leaves. Drizzle the dressing over and serve.
Tuyet PhamChef, Culinary Consultant
Luna ReginaWriter, Author
Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LDNutrition Reviewer
April 7, 2023 at 3:04 AMsimple and refreshing salad that's perfect for summer.