One of my absolute favorite foods to make in the summers (along with cucumber sandwiches and tomato toast) is this simple caprese salad. It celebrates the beautiful tomatoes that are in peak season during the height of summer, and it’s effortless, elegant, and so satisfying. This recipe is perfect for those summer days when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, and its easy assembly makes this the perfect ten-minute meal. No cooking required, but maximum payoff – a caprese truly is one of summer’s pure delights.
Before we dive into my recipe below, let me just preface what you are about to see with this fun fact about me: I’m a caprese purist. My recipe has only five ingredients: fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, good extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt. When using the best ingredients at the peak of their season, my goal is to make everything shine through. You’ll notice that my recipe contains no balsamic vinegar, because I think it completely masks the flavor of the beautiful, in season produce. It’s not needed. Good extra virgin olive oil and salt are all you need for a perfect dressing on a caprese. It’s simple and perfect, and I hope you give it a try!
Can you riff on the caprese and add extra things? Sure! Although I stand by this recipe being perfect in its purest form, there are ways to add to your plate if you’re in the mood to switch it up. Serve with a side of nice bread if you like, or add some prosciutto. Other fruits like peaches or melons are always welcome in the mix, corn or roasted peppers would also be fun options, and olives would play very nicely with the flavors here as well. Although I’m team fresh basil all the way here, pesto would work as a good substitution if you are in a pinch. This would be a fabulous appetizer or first course for a delightful summer menu as well, so consider the caprese as a wonderful option for summer entertaining.
Recipe down below, photo up top! This is enough for one nice plate of caprese (a serving of one in my opinion), so feel free to scale up if making this for a crowd!
Simple Caprese Salad
- 2 large tomatoes
- Swap for one large and a handful of cherry tomatoes, or use all cherry tomatoes if that’s what you have!
- 1 large ball of fresh mozzarella
- 3-4 large leaves of basil
- 1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt (flakey if you have it!)
- Remove the mozzarella from the liquid it’s packed in. Slice into ½ inch slices, and arrange the slices on a plate.
- Wash and thoroughly dry the tomatoes. Remove any remaining stems. Slice the tomatoes (crosswise) into ½ thick slices to make beautiful slices of tomatoes. Add the sliced tomatoes to the plate next to the mozzarella.
- If using cherry tomatoes, slice in half or quarters.
- Stack the basil leaves into a little pile, then roll the pile of leaves into a little cylinder. Using a sharp knife, slice the basil leaves across the cylinder into thin slices. Give the sliced basil a quick toss to loosen up your basil ribbons, then add to your plate on top of the tomatoes.
- Top your tomatoes with a pinch of flakey salt (any salt will do here if you don’t have flakey!).
- Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
- Grab a fork and enjoy immediately!