Crowd-pleasing caprese salad that serves well and elegantly as a refreshing side dish. With minimal assembly required, this delicious salad appetizer is ready in minutes.
Italy is home to a lot of delicious dishes. We enjoyed dishes like pizza and pasta, all thanks to Italian cuisine.
Another outstanding dish that originated from the European country is the Caprese Salad. This refreshing salad is perfect for any occasion or holiday.
Caprese Salad is one of the numerous types of salad that originated in Italy. The dish is made from sweet basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
The dish is also seasoned with salt and olive oil. The dish is such a big deal, especially in Italy or among Italians, because the dish features the colors on the Italian flag, Red, White, and Green.
Despite being a salad, Caprese Salad is served as a starter in most restaurants and not as a side dish.
If you are making the dish at home, it can be eaten anytime and works for many occasions.
There are numerous origin stories regarding the Caprese Salad. However, regardless of the story and how it is told, it is agreed that the dish originated from the Island of Capri in ancient Italy.
Unsurprisingly, a dish as glamorous and remarkable as the Caprese Salad originated from the island.
The island of Capri itself is known for glamour and has held an attractive pull to the high and mighty for many centuries.
The island was the relaxation center for the illustrious Roman Emperor, Emperor Augustus, in 1 A.D. His successor, Emperor Tiberius, made the island his home and ruled from there.
Down the line, the island also played host to critically acclaimed writers such as George Bernard Shaw, Graham Greene, and D.H. Lawrence, as well as scree n divas like Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Some records suggest that Tiberius came up with the recipe for the Caprese Salad towards the end of the first century A.D.
Other records argued that Constantino Moffa started the recipe for the dish. However, this is unlikely because Constantino Moffa worked in a Swiss hotel as the Maitre d’ when he was said to start the recipe. Moffa was also an indigene of Capri Island.
Finally, the origin story that sounded more likely stated that a mason who wanted to make a dish to tribute to Italy after the First World War came up with the recipe.
This is why the dish embodied the tricolor representation of the country’s flag.
The first mention of the dish in a printed medium was in the menu of Hotel Quisisana.
The dish’s popularity was due to the activities of King Farouq of Egypt, whose chef offered the Caprese Salad as an afternoon snack.
Since then, the dish has become popular in many parts of the world.
What are the ingredients for Caprese Salad
The full recipe with the exact measurement is listed below in the recipe card. For now, here’s a quick guide of the ingredients that are used to make this salad.
Mozzarella – This cheese is the most important ingredient for making this dish; as a result, it should be of high quality.
The best type of mozzarella for this dish is the cow milk mozzarella, also known as Fior di latte. You can also use buffalo mozzarella.
The most important thing is ensuring that the mozzarella you use is fresh.
Tomatoes – Tomatoes are also essential ingredients for making the Caprese Salad. The ideal tomatoes to use for this dish are the Umberto tomatoes. It is also known as beefsteak tomatoes or fiascona tomatoes.
You should ensure that these tomatoes are ripe and sliced in equal sizes with the mozzarella.
You can also opt for cherry tomatoes or Pachino tomatoes; however, it is better to dice this type of tomatoes as they are smaller in size.
Salt & Pepper – This is the primary seasoning ingredient for the dish. Sea salt flakes also work perfectly for the dish. However, the tomatoes should be salted and not the mozzarella.
Basil – As much as basil looks like a decorative ingredient for this dish, it is not. It is actually a vital ingredient, and the quality of this ingredient cannot be compromised.
The ideal basil leaf is the Neapolitan type due to its large leaf size. The best time to add basil leaf to the dish is just before serving, as basil tends to blacken and wither fast.
In this recipe we also included purple basil, which is used primary for color purposes and is completely optional.
Olive Oil – This is another crucial ingredient you cannot afford to compromise its quality. The olive oil can literally make or break the dish, so you must ensure that the one you get is high-quality.
The best variety of olive oil for the Caprese Salad is extra-virgin olive oil.
Balsamic Vinegar – For the vinegar, feel free to use your choice of balsamic vinegar. We used the balsamic glazed vinegar and dilute it slightly with ¼ cup water.
Variations and Optional Ingredients
When making this recipe, feel free to make yours. Below are a few options to keep in mind when making this dish.
- Fruity flavored olive oil also works for the dish.
- Pepper is an optional ingredient for Caprese Salad. While it adds extra spice to the dish, the dish remains perfect even without it.
- Red pepper flakes – pepper flakes work well with cheese. It adds a hint of heat to the salad.
- Lemon zest or balsamic vinegar reduction are also allowed for the dish, although they remain optional.
- Oregano could be a substitute for basil leaves. Some people use the herbs alongside basil leaves in the dish.
- Cilantro – completely optional, but also add in freshness to the dish.
- This dish does not use mayonnaise, olives, vinegar, or eggs.
- Please do not use too much salt as it could strip the flavors of the tomatoes and mozzarella, which is the main essence of the dish. The same rule goes for the olive oil used for the dish. Use just enough to improve the flavor of the ingredients.
- Don’t refrigerate your tomatoes! Keep them at room temperature for best taste. Avoid too much water as it can affect the consistency of the Caprese Salad.
- You should also watch the temperature when making the salad. It is the primary reason why most Caprese salads go wrong.
Storage and Reheating Suggestions
Storing the Caprese Salad is a bit dicey as its ingredients are in their best state at room temperature.
By refrigerating the tomatoes, they turn mushy, which doesn’t bode well for the consistency of the Caprese salad.
Thus, it is advisable to make only the amount of Caprese Salad you can finish and store at room temperature.
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How To Make A Caprese Salad
- Large Platter
- 4 medium vine tomatoes sliced ½ inch thick
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese sliced ½ inch thick
- bunch basil We used green and purple basil (purple basil is optional)
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic glaze
- 2 Tbsp. water
- ½ tsp. Kosher salt or to taste
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper or to taste
- Slice the tomatoes and cheese. Place the tomatoes and mozzarella on a plater. Align both ingredients alternatively. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and cheese. Add the basil leaves in between the cheese and tomatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a small cup combine the vinegar and water. Drizzle the vinegar mixture over the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Serve immediately.