Caprese Salad is a famous Italian dish, traditionally made with just 4 ingredients: tomato, mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil. It’s a really quick and easy recipe. Few high quality ingredients expertly assembled together. You can create an exceptional delight in just a few minutes!
Caprese Salad is perfect as an appetizer, but you can serve it as a single whole dish. It’s ideal during hot summer days for its freshness. Especially if you don’t feel like cooking! Caprese salad is refreshing, light and nutritious. A perfect Italian dish to eat on the beach by the sea or during a picnic in the countryside.
Caprese salad is a cult of Neapolitan cuisine. In fact in Campania, they consider mozzarella the “white gold” of this land. Its taste and texture make this product famous and imitated all over the world. Even the tomatoes from Campania, ripened in the southern sun, really have an unmistakable flavor!
Caprese Salad and a good Italian gelato, what’s better for a summer lunch?
How to Make Authentic Italian Caprese Salad
- Prep Time: 5 Min
- Cook Time: 0 Min
Caprese Salad Ingredients
- 4 ripe red tomatoes
- 4 mozzarella – about 500 g ( 1,1 lb) of fresh and high quality Buffalo Mozzarella or Fior di latte
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of fine salt
- a little freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- A few drops of balsamic vinegar (optional)
Step 1) – Wash the tomatoes and slice them paying attention to make regular slices of about 1 cm (half inch). Salt them lightly then let the tomato slices loose their water for two minutes on a cutting board.
Step 2) – Remove mozzarella from its water and let it drain well. Slice the mozzarella into fairly regular slices of about 1 cm (half inch). You can leave it in a colander for two or three minutes to better drain the water. Now wash the basil leaves and pat them dry with a little kitchen paper.
Step 3) – Now arrange these three precious ingredients – tomato, mozzaralla and basil – in a serving dish in the way you like best. For example, alternate a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf. Finally add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and serve.
Enjoy your Caprese Salad immediately with your family and friends!
Caprese Salad should be eaten immediately. Tomatoes and mozzarella release some water after a few hours.
If there is some leftover, you can keep them in the refrigerator covered with cling film or stored in an airtight food container for one day. Be aware that you may find them a little watered down after a day.
The Perfect Italian Caprese Salad: Do’s and Don’t
As simple as a Caprese Salad may seem, it hides small pitfalls that risk ruining the final result. From the choice of the tomato to the type of Mozzarella, here are some tips for bringing to the table a perfect Caprese salad.
What Kind of Tomatoes are Best?
Tomatoes should be ripe red but not too ripe. They must be firm and crunchy, not too soft otherwise they release too much water and it’s difficult to cut them into slices.
In Italy we use tomatoes called “costoluto” or “cuore di bue” or “insalataro”, depending on the region. Abroad, cherry and vine tomatoes are the most commonly used tomatoes to make caprese salad. The important thing is that they are firm tomatoes with compact pulp and few seeds.
Buffalo Mozzarella or Fior di Latte Mozzarella?
Many argue that for the authentic Italian Caprese Salad you should use only Campania buffalo mozzarella.
Many others prefer to use Fior di latte mozzarella, a whole cow’s milk mozzarella typical of Campania.
Buffalo mozzarella is saltier and firmer. Fior di latte mozzarella is more delicate. Both are perfect for Caprese salad as long as they are of excellent quality. We think it’s just a matter of taste.
THE IMPORTANT THING IS NOT TO EAT MOZZARELLA WHEN IS COLD (Buffalo o fior di latte)
So don’t eat mozzarella just removed from the refrigerator. Its delicate flavor is best enjoyed at room temperature. Don’t use packaged mozzarella blocks. They are more suitable for pizza or cooked dishes.
Fresh Basil Leaves: an Ingredient not Just a Decoration
Fresh basil leaves are essential for the Caprese salad and not only as a decoration. The basil aroma is an integral part of the dish.
For this reason, it shouldn’t be scarce. Choose the smaller leaves because they have an even more intense flavor. The basil leaf should be left whole or at most broken in two with your hands. DO NOT chop the basil or replace it with Pesto.
If you love to take care of plants and you don’t have a garden, try growing basil in pots. It survives on a window sill and can be left outside when the season is warmer. It just needs lots of sun and lots of water.
There’s nothing like picking your own basil leaves to add to your delicious Caprese Salad!
Oregano: Variant Allowed!
As we have already said, Caprese Salad recipe wants just 4 ingredients. One of these is fresh basil.
However, the use of minced Oregano is really widespread and goes well with the flavor of mozzarella and tomato.
Our tip is to choose, according to your taste, whether to use basil OR oregano. DON’T USE BOTH: the two aromas together contrast and cover each other.
Caprese Salad Dressing
Caprese salad is traditionally served with only the dressing of a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to sweeten the acidity of the tomatoes.
However, if you think that your tomatoes are not tasty or ripe enough, you can add a pinch of salt. But ONLY on the tomatoes before assembling the dish, in order not to alter the taste of the mazzarella. Furthermore, if you use buffalo mozzarella, the salt is really useless.
For a richer taste, you can add a little freshly ground black pepper and/or a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
Finally, needless to say, USE ONLY EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL of excellent quality. It must enrich the dish but not cover the flavor of the other ingredients. It must be delicate and fruity.
Authentic Caprese Salad is Made with 4 Ingredients and Nothing Else
Authentic Caprese Salad recipe includes 4 ingredients: tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil and a drizzle of excellent extra virgin olive oil.
That said, you can add anything: from capers to olives, some onions, then tuna, hard-boiled eggs, maybe some mustard or a bit of avocado and why don’t you dress it with some honey?
But if you don’t want to eat something fresh and light, then maybe it’s better not to make a Caprese. Make just a big rich mixed salad.
How to Serve Caprese Salad
One of the most important characteristics of this dish, in addition of course to the taste and quality of the ingredients, is its light, fresh, colorful look!
So alternate in a serving dish a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf. Let’s see together how to do it!
#1 – You can arrange them or in a circular way, following the shape of the plate or aligned vertically.
#2 – You can stack the ingredients vertically as if to form a tower.
#3 – Or you can arrange the ingredients in a checkerboard pattern: combine a slice of tomato and a slice of mozzarella and then arrange them alternately on the plate. To make these two types of dish you have to choose tomatoes and mozzarella more or less of the same size to have regular slices.
#4 – If, on the other hand, you don’t have tomatoes and mozzarella of the same size, you can serve in a deliberately messy way by filling the entire surface of the serving dish, alternating the ingredients randomly and not regular.
#5 – Finally two ideas for your summer parties, using cherry tomatoes and small mozzarellas: you can make comfortable and cheerful skewers or make single portions served in a glass with a small fork.
Origin of Caprese Salad
There are various legends about the origin of Caprese salad.
One seems to be related to a mason from Capri, a beautiful island in the sea of Naples, from which the dish takes its name.
It seems that this bricklayer, towards the end of the 1930s, chose to stuff his sandwich with tomato, mozzarella and basil during his lunch break.
Making news for patriotic ardor. Indeed, the colors of the Caprese Salad fully represent the Italian flag!
Another version tells that Caprese Salad was born in Capri in 1920. They organized a dinner in the famous Hotel Quisisana for the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, founder of the Futurist Manifest.
It’s said that the poet had repeatedly criticized traditional Neapolitan cuisine, too full of fat and fried food. Marinetti argued that too rich and heavy foods made a man lazy and clouded his mind.
So the Chef, in order to amaze the writer and make him change his opinion about Neapolitan food tradition, included Caprese salad in the Menu: a light but equally tasty dish that was a resounding success.
From that moment Caprese Salad became a legend on the island and subsequently a gastronomic icon of Campania and of Italy!
In short, whatever the most likely story is, one thing is certain: Caprese Salad is an authentic Italian dish, typical of Capri, and undoubtedly patriotic!