Caprese Salad or Insalata Caprese is a simple salad of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes topped with basil and a splash of balsamic. A perfect end of summer appetizer or side dish, especially when tomatoes are at their peak.
I don’t think there’s a better way to enjoy summer tomatoes, than with some fresh mozzarella and basil. An inspiration for so many dishes, like this main dish Chicken and Spiralized Zucchini Caprese, or this simple side dish White Bean Caprese, or this French Bread Pizza Caprese which is perfect for lunch.
Insalata Caprese is a dish from Naples, named after the island of Capri. It makes sense that this dish comes from Naples, since it is the capital city of mozzarella and also known for growing plump tomatoes, fragrant basil and producing some of the best olive oil. When I went to Naples and Capri this year, I ate it every chance I could. There is a belief the salad was created as a symbol of the Italian flag, with the red, the green and the white elements layered in turn on the plate.
Since this simple salad only requires a few ingredients, the quality of the ingredients make all the difference here. I’m lucky to have some really great homemade mozzarella available to me here in New York. If you have Italian markets in your area that make it fresh daily, I highly recommend going that route. Pastosa ravioli is literally down the block from me, it’s my go-to when I want homemade mozzarella. You can use store bought “homemade” mozzarella, but it’s just not the same.
Buying Fresh Mozzarella
I buy fresh mozzarella the day I need it to make this salad and leave it on the counter. It doesn’t taste the same after it has been refrigerated, it loses its milky characteristics. Leftovers get refrigerated, destined for pizza or other recipes.
More Tomato Recipes
- Summer Tomato Salad
- Angel Hair Pasta with Zucchini and Tomatoes
- Tomato Basil Soup
- Pesto Parmesan Baked Tomatoes
- Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil
- 1 large tomato, sliced into 8 slices
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 slices
- 5-6 basil leaves, sliced
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- salt and fresh pepper
- Place sliced mozzarella on a large plate or platter.
- Top with tomato, olive oil, balsamic, basil, salt and pepper.
Photo Credit: Jess Larson