An easy caprese salad with balsamic vinegar that tastes like summer. Healthy, keto and low carb, this is one of my favorite summer lunches.
Caprese salad (pronounced cah-preh-seh) is quick, fresh, and tastes like summer. It’s one of those super-simple dishes that are surprisingly delicious. Such a wonderful flavor combination!
Why is it called Caprese salad?
It’s called “Insalata Caprese” in Italian, which translates to “salad of Capri.” So it probably originated from the Island of Capri.
What ingredients do I need for caprese salad?
You only need a few ingredients:
- Fresh tomatoes
- Fresh mozzarella
- Basil leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Dijon mustard
How to make caprese salad?
It’s so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the full instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- Whisk the dressing ingredients and set aside.
- Slice the tomatoes thinly.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the mozzarella thinly.
- Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices on a platter, alternating and overlapping each other. Arrange the basil leaves on top.
- Sprinkle the salad with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the salad dressing, and serve.
Use the best ingredients
As always when it comes to simple recipes, the individual ingredients must be of high quality to make this simple salad as good as it can be.
So when you make caprese salad, make sure you use good olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Choose Kosher salt or sea salt rather than table salt. Pick fresh whole-milk mozzarella, as fresh as you can get.
Most importantly, use good tomatoes. Big, red and ripe but firm, not mealy, and definitely not refrigerated. If your tomatoes did spend some time in the fridge, take them out of it and bring them to room temperature.
Can I use low-fat mozzarella?
I don’t recommend it. Low-fat mozzarella is not very tasty. And it’s such an important part of this dish. If you worry about health, I’m happy to report that current research says that for most healthy people, whole milk products are actually quite healthy.
The salad dressing
This is nontraditional, but I like to add a small amount of Dijon mustard to the dressing. This helps it emulsify.
You can skip the Dijon and simply drizzle the salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It won’t be as pretty, but it will be just as tasty.
Can I make caprese salad the night before?
It’s better not to. The whole thing can turn quite soggy overnight in the fridge. It’s a very easy recipe to make, so I don’t mind making it right before we plan on eating.
How to serve caprese salad?
Caprese salad is an Italian appetizer. Indeed, it is often served as an appetizer in restaurants. But at home, I either serve it as a side dish with dinner (it goes really well with oven chicken kabobs) or as a main course for lunch.
More salad recipes that you might enjoy
Another simple summer recipe that I love is this recipe for cherry tomato salad. And if you like eggplants, I think you will love this eggplant caprese. It’s a bit more labor-intensive than this recipe, but it’s amazing.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 8 oz fresh whole-milk mozzarella
- 9 medium basil leaves
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or ¼ teaspoon sea salt)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients with a small hand whisk until they emulsify into a smooth salad dressing. Set aside.
- Slice the tomatoes thinly. Aim to get a total of 10 slices.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the mozzarella thinly into 9 rounds.
- Arrange the tomato and mozzarella slices on a platter, alternating and overlapping each other. Arrange the basil leaves on top, as shown in the photos.
- Sprinkle the salad with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the salad dressing. Serve immediately.