I first stumbled upon caprese salad a few years ago when I was looking for ways to use extra tomatoes from my garden. Our family fell in love with the fresh taste and it quickly became one of our favorite accompaniments to grilled chicken!
If you have never had caprese salad it tastes like summer on a plate. A little bit of balsamic vinegar brings out the bright flavor of vine ripened tomatoes and sweet basil. It is a very simple salad to make and the flavors of summer really shine through. It is a great way to use all those tomatoes growing in your garden! Read on to learn how to make this delicious caprese salad at home.
Caprese salad uses only six ingredients. We will go through them now:
Tomatoes – Select tomatoes that are ripe, fresh, and full of flavor. Watery winter grocery store tomatoes aren’t going to cut it here. Try to choose ones that are about the same size around as your mozzarella cheese to make layering easier.
Basil – Fresh basil is the only way to go here. I like to use basil from our garden when we have it. Luckily basil has such a strong flavor you do not need too much of it.
Mozzarella Cheese – Fresh mozzarella cheese is best for this salad, and it is usually sold in a ball or log. This type of mozzarella is moister and less rubbery than the cheese that you would buy for pizza, for example. Fresh mozzarella cheese does not keep very long and needs to be eaten within a few days of opening the package. Luckily, this caprese salad won’t last that long. 🙂
Fresh mozzarella can be a little difficult to cut because it is so soft and delicate. The mozzarella I use is pre-sliced, which saves time and makes things much easier.
Balsamic Vinegar – Balsamic vinegar really brings out the flavor of the tomatoes. A little goes a long way here. If you are not a fan of balsamic vinegar you can omit it if you would like.
Olive oil – Olive oil gives some flavor to the salad and keeps things moist.
Salt – I like to use kosher salt here because it is easier to sprinkle on top of the salad. Table salt works too, in a pinch. (Get it? 🙂 )
Step 1: Make the Balsamic Glaze
Start by making the balsamic glaze that is drizzled over the top of the salad. Cooking the balsamic vinegar will remove some of the harshness and make it taste sweeter. It also makes it thicker so it will not slide off of your salad.
To make the balsamic glaze put half a cup of balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil. Allow it to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until it is reduced by about half and the consistency is as thick as you would like. Do not walk away from this because it goes from perfect to burned in about two minutes. (Yes, I did this and yes, I had to start over). Set the glaze aside to cool while you make the rest of the salad.
Step 2: Assemble the Salad
While the vinegar is cooling assemble the salad. Start by cutting the stems out of the tomatoes and slicing them in nice thick slices about 1/4 inch thick. Open the mozzarella cheese and drain out any whey in the package. Wash the basil and remove the leaves from the stems. Now everything is ready to go!
Get your serving platter and start alternating the tomatoes with the mozzarella cheese in a pretty pattern. Then poke some basil leaves here and there between the layers. Just before serving drizzle the salad with the olive oil and some of the cooled balsamic glaze. Don’t go crazy with the glaze here people, a little goes a long way. Lastly, sprinkle with salt. Isn’t it so pretty?
Serve your salad immediately. Enjoy it as a side dish or serve it alone with crusty bread for an easy summer lunch. Yum, yum, yum! Welcome to summer 🙂
I hope you get to try this caprese salad soon! Happy Cooking!
Simple Caprese Salad
- 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 4-5 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 10-20 basil leaves
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- kosher salt, to taste
- Make the balsamic glaze by pouring the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the vinegar is thick enough to coat a spoon and desired consistency is reached. Set aside to cool.
- While the vinegar is cooling assemble the salad. On your serving platter alternate the sliced tomatoes with the mozzarella cheese in a pretty pattern. Then poke some basil leaves here and there between the layers.
- Drizzle the salad with the olive oil and as much balsamic glaze as you would like. Sprinkle with kosher salt to taste.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
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