Caprese is the Italian summer recipe par excellence. This light salad can be served both as an appetizer and as a main dish. It involves the use of buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, all seasoned with salt, oregano and extra virgin olive oil. The vibrant colors and freshness can drive anyone crazy.
If there is a gastronomic paradise on earth, that is beyond any doubt – Italy. When you think of Caprese, you think of the warmth, summer breeze, and simplicity. A recipe with very few ingredients and easy to prepare in a few minutes. Italian cuisine is famous for many delectable recipes such as risotto, Bolognese lasagna, polenta, and the all-time standing ovation dessert Tiramisu. However, if all these recipes mentioned require a little time for preparation, then Caprese salad is done “pronto”.
If you don’t feel like cooking and don’t want to hustle around the stove, nothing is better than fresh tomato with mozzarella, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few fragrant basil leaves. Just add some drops of pesto sauce if you like it, and you’re done. Everyone is happy when you bring a Caprese salad to the table. It is a simple yet elegant dish very appropriate for any occasion and mood.
What Cheese to Use for Caprese Salad?
The only right cheese for this exquisite Caprese is mozzarella. When choosing the cheese, go for fresh buffalo mozzarella. The classic recipe calls for fiordilatte. However, considering that it is a product not easy to find, you can also choose the tastiest buffalo mozzarella. The one that is very soft and moist. There is a big difference between buffalo mozzarella and the one used for pizza. You should always buy one that is sold in its whey. You will, of course, remove the liquid, however, only that is the appropriate cheese for Caprese salad.
Ingredients for Caprese Salad
The success of any meal, especially of salads, are the fresh ingredients. The Caprese is no exception.
Mozzarella, along with the tomato, are the main ingredient of the dish and must be extraordinarily good. These two ingredients will make a big difference on your plate.
Tomatoes. Everything that is written above about mozzarella also applies to tomatoes. Don’t choose them at random. The best are those of undeniable quality. They must be ripe and crunchy. It’s nice that the slices are the same size as those of the mozzarella. You can also choose cherry tomatoes of different colors for a more intense palette of color and flavor.
If you intend to use cherry tomatoes, it is best to cut the mozzarella in smaller chunks and mix everything like a regular salad. In this case, serve the Caprese in single portion glasses. The aspect is splendid, guaranteed.
Basil is not only a decorative ingredient but also indispensable. Choose either red or green fresh basil. Break the large leaves using your bare hands. The aroma it gives to the plate is something between fresh and sweet. One little tip, add it just before serving the Caprese because it tends to wilt if stays in humidity for too long.
Many use oregano as a substitute or together with basil, which is not wrong. Just make sure to choose it of excellent quality and very fragrant, be it either fresh or dry.
Olive oil is the only oil option for the Caprese, and it has to be extra virgin. Choose it with an olive-fruity and delicate taste. Caprese salad is not a greasy salad, it is fine and elegant. Thus, do not add too much oil to it.
Seasoning. A big No goes to mayonnaise, vinegar, egg or cream sauces of any kind. Only pesto sauce is appropriate for Caprese. Excessive seasonings and doubtful combinations will ruin the fine taste of this Italian salad. You don’t want to cover the perfectly balanced taste of mozzarella and tomato.
How to Prepare Caprese Salad
It is such a simple salad that anyone can prepare a Caprese. Be careful, however, because like every traditional recipe it has very specific rules that imply being respect. Otherwise, simple mistakes can ruin a perfect and easy to make salad dish. Some of the worst are mozzarella losing too much milk, the tomato being too ripe or bad quality olive oil.
Here, therefore, find the easy steps on how to prepare the perfect Caprese.
First, rinse the tomatoes. Use cold to slightly warm water. Hot water may cause the skin of the tomato to come off. Then slice tomatoes. Try to cut slices of the same thickness.
Drain the whey out of the mozzarella pack. Take the buffalo mozzarella and slice it evenly.
Follow the same logic of evenly cut slices as for the tomatoes. To remove excess liquid, dab mozzarella pieces with paper towels.
Wash the basil and remove excess water using the same indispensable paper towel. You can use whole leaves or break the leaves for extra aroma.
How to Assemble the Caprese Salad
Now it is time to assemble the colored deliciousness. Place one slice of tomato and follow with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Garnish with basil. Follow these steps until the plate is full. Sprinkle a few drops of olive oil and pesto sauce. For the flavors to blend better, my Italian friends gave me a very interesting piece of advice. They suggested transferring the Caprese salad in the fridge for about 1 hour before serving it. It’s done and it’s luscious.
How to Serve Caprese Salad
You can serve Caprese salad in many different ways. You can create a kind of skewer, which is the perfect serving for a quick summer aperitif or buffet.
For a more scenographic effect, you can build a small tower on the plate. Put up layers of tomato and mozzarella all garnished with basil in between to be served individually to each guest. That is a high-end restaurant serving.
Fresh & Italian Juicy Caprese Salad
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 pieces mozzarella
- 6 basil leaves
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp pesto sauce
- Wash and slice tomatoes. Try to cut slices of the same thickness
- Take the buffalo mozzarella and slice it evenly, the same size as the tomato slices
- Wash the basil and remove excess water with a paper towel
- Place one slice of tomato and follow with a slice of mozzarella cheese. Garnish with basil
- Follow these steps until the plate is full