Bursting with so much flavor, this Italian Tomato Mozzarella Salad uses only a few quality ingredients. Don’t let summer go by without making this Insalata Caprese!
Originating from the beautiful island of Capri, this classic Italian appetizer for a Caprese salad recipe is a summer must.
Using fresh quality ingredients is key to achieving that sought-after Mediterranean taste, especially with a few ingredients.
That is, after all, one of the most important aspects of Italian cuisine.
No one can resist no-cook appetizers, especially in the summer!
What is Caprese?
Caprese (pronounced ca-preh-zseh) is a simple tomato mozzarella salad, often served as an entrée.
Ingredients for Caprese salad
The printable recipe card, found at the bottom of the page, has the specific amounts for each ingredient.
- Tomatoes. Use fresh, in-season tomatoes.
- Mozzarella. An essential component of this classic appetizer.
- Basil. Fresh and fragrant!
- Olive oil. If possible, please use high-quality, extra virgin olive oil.
- Salt and Pepper. Use sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
How to make Caprese salad
Rinse the tomatoes and basil leaves and gently dry with a tea towel.
Using a very sharp knife, slice tomatoes about ½ inch thick. If you prefer, cut into chunks or even cubes.
The number of tomatoes you use will depend on their size. It’s safe to say that you will need the equivalent of 2-3 medium-large tomatoes for 4 servings. That’s about one pound.
Place the sliced tomatoes on a serving dish. The inclusion of a few heirloom cherry tomatoes provides a splash of color. Use a large enough serving dish so that the tomatoes form a single layer. It’s okay if there is a little overlap.
Next, pull apart small chunks of mozzarella (about 8 ounces) and place them throughout the platter on top of the tomato.
For a more traditional appearance, slice the mozzarella into ½ inch thick. Layer the sliced cheese and tomatoes alternately in a concentric circle on the serving platter.
Garnish with basil leaves (20-25 small leaves). Leave the basil leaf intact if small and tender. Otherwise, tear it into small pieces.
Season with ½ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper (or to taste).
Drizzle 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over the entire platter.
Allow the flavors to meld for 15 minutes before serving.
5 tips to make the best Caprese salad
1-Use fresh, in-season tomatoes. The best-tasting tomatoes are usually found towards the end of summer. Choose ripe and firm-fleshed tomatoes that are sweet-smelling. Since one of the main ingredients is tomatoes, sub-par tomatoes will not create a tasty salad.
2-Use fresh mozzarella. A mozzarella di bufala will contribute both a tangy taste and a creamy texture. If not available, a fresh mozzarella (from cow’s milk) is equally delicious.
3-Use fragrant basil. The most aromatic of all Italian herbs is sweet basil, also known as the Genovese variety. In my opinion, this completes the triforce of the Caprese salad.
4-Use high-quality olive oil. When purchasing olive oil, look at the production date and only buy oil produced within the window of 2 years. Since exposure to light affects the taste, do not purchase olive oil in clear bottles.
5-Use the right amount of salt. This potent condiment can draw out the juices from the tomatoes and create a unique tasting experience.
What are the best tomatoes to use?
Feel free to use any variety of in-season, very ripe yet firm tomatoes. Using heirloom tomatoes creates both a beautiful and delicious appetizer. Although not the classic version, use the yellow, orange, or even black variety to provide a visually appealing presentation.
Can I make it ahead of time?
No. This simple Italian salad takes 5 minutes to put together and should be made at least 15 minutes before serving it. If you are pressed for time, you can leave it at room temperature for up to 30 minutes, but the quality will not be the same. Whatever you do, please promise me that you will never, ever refrigerate this salad.
What to serve with it?
Caprese salad is usually served as an appetizer, so make sure to offer some crusty Italian bread to mop up all the tomato juices left behind. It is also great with this Italian Focaccia Recipe.
Easy Italian Appetizers
- Marinated Mushrooms
- Marinated Mozzarella Balls
- Easy Mushroom Risotto
- Eggplant Caponata
- Chicken Spiedini
If you’ve been here before, you know that I had an Italian upbringing.
I had the privilege of living with my paternal grandparents during my youth and as a result, I experienced firsthand so many wonderful family traditions.
Most Italian families I knew would grow their tomato plants from their seeds.
I can still remember how, at my parents’ house, these tiny seedlings were placed right next to the patio door – it was the area that had the most sunlight in the spring and so, naturally, was reserved for the tomatoes until they were transplanted outside.
As the days got longer and warmer, these tiny plants would be placed outside in direct sunlight during the day and transferred back inside for the evening.
This was a labor of love.
My mom would always make this salad with fresh garden tomatoes, homegrown fresh basil, and homemade mozzarella cheese. She would layer the tomatoes and the mozzarella in concentric circles on her serving plate and sprinkle the dish with chopped basil.
Just recently, I was inspired by this picture to pull apart the mozzarella instead of slicing it. I love this idea!
This is such a great summer appetizer that you can make with just a few fresh, simple, and high-quality ingredients.
THANKS SO MUCH for following and being part of the She Loves Biscotti community where you will find Simple & Tasty Family-Friendly Recipes with an Italian Twist.
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Ciao for now,
★★★★★ If you have made this Insalata Caprese, I would love to hear about it in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe!
Tomato Mozzarella Salad
- 3 medium tomatoes fresh, rinsed , about 1 pound
- 8 ounces mozzarella fresh
- 20 leaves basil fresh, rinsed
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon pepper or to taste
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- With a very sharp knife, slice the tomatoes ½ inch thick.
- Place the sliced tomatoes on a serving platter.
- Tear off pieces of the mozzarella and place throughout the platter, on top of the tomato slices.
- Garnish with basil leaves. Leave the basil leaf intact if small and tender. Otherwise, tear into small pieces.
- Season with sea salt and pepper (or to taste)
- Drizzle olive oil over the entire platter
- Allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving.