Made with juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fragrant basil, and a tangy balsamic glaze, Tomato Mozzarella Salad is the ultimate summer salad.
There is nothing better than a ripe, juicy summer tomato. And while garden fresh tomatoes are certainly delicious in recipes like Tomato Pizza, Bruschetta, and BLT Salad, a Tomato Mozzarella Salad, otherwise known as a Caprese Salad, is the ultimate recipe for ripe summer tomatoes.
What is a Caprese Salad?
A Caprese Salad is a simple salad made with fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, basil, and olive oil.
The authentic name of this simple dish is Insalata Caprese, which translates to Salad of Capri. Capri is a region in Italy known for juicy tomatoes, basil, and some of the best olive oil, so you can see why they are the masterminds behind this tomato mozzarella salad.
It is simplicity at its finest! But when you have juicy, ripe tomatoes, you don't need much to make them shine.
Caprese Salad Ingredients
A Caprese salad, or tomato mozzarella salad, is obviously made with tomatoes and mozzarella. It classically includes fresh basil, olive oil, and salt, and pepper. While not traditional, I like to jazz up this simple salad with a balsamic glaze, to give the salad a tangy, sweet, finish, which compliments the flavor of the tomatoes.
- Tomatoes: Summer is the best time to make this tomato mozzarella salad, when tomatoes are seasonal, as you want the tomatoes to be freshly picked, perfectly ripe, and super juicy. While you can use any variety of tomatoes, I strongly recommend vine-ripened tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes for the best flavor and classic presentation. Winter, when fresh tomatoes are harder to find, is not the ideal time to make a Caprese salad.
- Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella is a must for this recipe. Do not use a block of mozzarella cheese or shredded cheese. You want to purchase a ball or log of fresh mozzarella, which is often found in the deli section of your grocery store.
- Olive Oil: Select a good quality, mild extra virgin olive oil.
- Basil: Choose fresh, vibrant green basil.
- Salt/Pepper: Kosher salt or sea salt and freshly cracked pepper are best.
- Balsamic Glaze: Balsamic vinegar is not traditional in Caprese Salads, but I love the acidity it brings to this dish. Feel free to omit it.
∗ important to remember ∗
Because there are only a handful of ingredients in a Tomato Mozzarella Salad, it is crucial to select your ingredients with a discerning eye and use the best products available to you.
How to Make a Tomato Mozzarella Salad
A Tomato Mozzarella Salad is one of the easiest appetizer recipes to make! Scratch that, it is one of the easiest recipes of all time to make! However, I have a few tips to keep in mind to make THE BEST VERSION of this classic Caprese Salad.
- Evenly slice the tomatoes and mozzarella. You want to make sure both the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese are evenly sliced in ¼-inch slices so that the ratio of cheese to tomato is perfect in every bite.
- Season the tomatoes before assembling the salad. While seasonal tomatoes are incredibly flavorful on their own, salt and pepper will enhance their natural flavor. I find that it is best to drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and then season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper to ensure that the tomato flavor is at its best in this salad.
- Layer the ingredients evenly. Arrange the slices of tomatoes and mozzarella on a serving platter or shallow bowl overlapping slightly and alternating the tomato and mozzarella. And then either tuck whole leaves of basil in between the layers of mozzarella and tomatoes or sprinkle the ribbons over the salad.
- Drizzle don't pour! You don't want to overdress this tomato mozzarella salad. So instead of generously pouring olive oil over the salad, lightly drizzle the salad with olive oil and balsamic reduction, if using. This will finish the salad with the perfect touch.
- Serve immediately. It is best to serve this salad immediately or within one hour of preparation. Fresh tomatoes taste best at room temperature, therefore the flavors of a Caprese salad are not the same after refrigeration, and the tomatoes and mozzarella begin to release a lot of liquid.
This Caprese Salad is classically served as an appetizer, but on a hot summer day, it is suitable for a meal when served with Italian bread on the side.
FAQs on Caprese Salads
Yes, but the preparation would change slightly. Cut the fresh basil leaves into ribbons, cut the tomatoes in half, and then either dice the mozzarella into cubes about the size of the tomatoes OR use tiny fresh mozzarella balls. Toss the tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, mozzarella, and basil together in a mixing bowl and then spread onto a serving platter. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze if using.
In place of fresh mozzarella, I would recommend using burrata cheese.
On the rare occasion that you are left with leftover tomato mozzarella salad, refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. This salad is not as flavorful after refrigeration, so I recommend using it to make a panini or add it to cooked pasta along with additional olive oil, for a quick and light entree.
More Recipes for Fresh Summer Tomato
If you enjoyed this Caprese Salad Recipe, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Tomato Mozzarella Salad
- 4 large vine-ripened or heirloom tomatoes sliced into ¼-inch slices
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese sliced into ¼-inch slice
- 15-20 basil leaves sliced into ribbons
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- kosher/sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic reduction optional
- Wash and dry the tomatoes well. Slice the tomatoes into even ¼-inch slices using a serrated knife. Drizzle the tomatoes with ½ tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Flip the tomatoes over and repeat the process so that both sides of the tomatoes are evenly seasoned.
- If needed, slice the mozzarella into ¼-inch slices as well.
- On a large serving platter or shallow bowl, arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella in an alternating pattern, slightly overlapping. Tuck basil leaves in between the slices of tomatoes and cheese.
- Drizzle the salad evenly with 1-2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with another small pinch of salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the salad with the balsamic glaze if using.
- Serve immediately or within one hour of preparation (you can leave the salad out at room temperature for up to one hour.)