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Nothing beats a Caprese Salad Recipe. Fresh, flavorful and delicious made with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, sweet basil, and a homemade garlic balsamic dressing! It’s truly the perfect salad all year long. Delicious served as an appetizer to Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs and Garlic Bread. Yum!
But First, What is Caprese Salad?
A Caprese Salad (pronounced kuh·pray·zay) is a simple Italian salad made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, salt, and olive oil. Like the Italian flag, this salad features the white, red, and green colors. It’s extremely popular and for good reason. One bite and you’ll understand the juicy sweet tomatoes paired with the herby basil and the creamy mozzarella is AMAZING.
Only 3 Main Ingredients
There are three main ingredients needed for a traditional Caprese Salad. While I include a few more for the overall recipe, these are the main ones that you’re going to want to find. Remember: since this recipe is only made up of a handful of ingredients, try to use the best quality ingredients you can find.
- Fresh Mozzarella. This mozzarella cheese is the kind that is softer, creamier, and packed in saltwater. I use Bocconcini which are the mini mozzarella balls, but the slices of mozzarella work just fine as well, cut into cubes.
- Fresh Tomatoes. I love using sweet grape tomatoes because regardless of the time of year, these always taste sweet and the quality is good. I hate a grainy tomato in the winter, so always gravitate towards the grape or cherry tomatoes most of the time. If you can find some ripe heirloom tomatoes, by all means, use those. But in case you can’t find those or don’t want to spend the money, the grape tomatoes work great!
- Fresh Basil. Herby and delicious, this is the last ingredient needed for a classic Caprese Salad. There is no real substitute for this and bonus: it’s super easy to grow yourself!
For the Garlic Balsamic Dressing
Honorable mentions for my recipe include balsamic vinegar, pepper, olive oil, garlic and a few extra lettuce greens to fill the salad out more and make it go a little further. If you’re feeding a crowd, this is a great way to stretch a dollar. Of course, the addition of lettuce is totally optional.
Make it a Meal!
You could add this salad with a protein to make it a meal. Chicken Parmesan would be super tasty with this salad recipe.
How to Make Caprese Salad
Follow these quick and simple steps to make your tasty salad.
Assembling the Salad
Place bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls) and tomatoes on a serving platter, arranging them in blocks of color. Sprinkle the fresh basil all over. Season with freshly cracked black pepper.
Making the Balsamic Dressing
I LOVE a good garlicky dressing and this one does not disappoint. While balsamic vinegar is a traditional topping for this salad, the garlic isn’t. But I’m not one to shy away from making the classics a tiny bit more flavorful and garlic seemed like an obvious choice.
Measure out garlic, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper into a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake it up to emulsify, then drizzle it over the salad. Again, makes for a great presentation!
Can Caprese Salad Be Made Ahead of Time?
Yes! Absolutely you can make this ahead. Just be sure to store the dressing separately and as much moisture is removed from the fresh mozzarella as possible. Moisture tends to ruin the integrity of the other ingredients, so making sure there isn’t much is key. This Caprese Salad will last up to 3 days in the fridge. Right before serving, top with dressing.
This salad tastes best when freshly made and assembled. Plus it’s super quick to throw together.
Other Italian Favorites!
And there you have it. Printable recipe card is below, make sure to save/pin/print this one out. Enjoy!
Easy Caprese Salad Recipe
- 1 lb Bocconcini (baby mozzarella balls) drained and patted dry
- 1 lb grape tomatoes washed and halved
- 12 large basil leaves chiffonade
- black pepper freshly cracked, to taste
- Place bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls) and tomatoes on a serving platter, arranging them in blocks of color. Sprinkle the fresh basil all over. Season with freshly cracked black pepper.
- Measure all ingredients for dressing into a small jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake and drizzle over salad. Serve immediately.