Best Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad Recipes
Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad Shopping Tips
Buy lettuce that is crisp and free of blemishes.
Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad Cooking Tips
Before dressing, keep your salad chilled in the refrigerator to stay crisp.
Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad)
Global symbol of Italian cuisine, insalata caprese (caprese salad), antipasto par excellence, contains only three simple ingredients, tomato, mozzarella and basil.
What is insalata caprese?
Insalata caprese, or simply caprese, originates, as its name suggests, on the island of Capri, the pearl of the Bay of Naples, capital of the Campania region.
A light and patriotic salad, it represents the colors of the Italian flag, il Tricolore. Red for the tomato, green for the basil, and white for the mozzarella.
It is therefore composed of tomato, traditionally of the variety called fiascone native to the Sorrento peninsula (or San Marzano) and buffalo mozzarella, all cut into slices and seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and fresh basil.
Sometimes balsamic glaze is added, or pesto vinaigrette, and, more rarely, oregano and freshly ground black pepper.
What is the origin of insalata caprese?
About the history of insalata caprese, as with many typical Italian dishes, there are several myths and legends surrounding it.
The earliest hypothesis is closely related to King Farouk of Egypt (1920 – 1965), who ruled Egypt from 1936 until 1952, when he was overthrown.
After a military coup in Egypt in 1952, King Farouk was forced into exile. For his exile, he first chose Monaco, then went to Rome and then to Capri.
The scene took place one day at the Gatto Bianco (the White Cat), the jet set hotel at the time. After the monarch’s morning swim, he returned to the hotel and asked the chef to have a very fresh dish served to him.
“He asked for something fresh, so we invented this salad, which also reminded us of the colors of the Italian flag,” said the grandson of the manager of the place later.
The chef returned to the kitchen and found that he had some delicious regional products in his pantry. So he made a salad for the king with tomato, mozzarella, and basil drizzled with a generous amount of olive oil.
The second hypothesis about the creation of insalata caprese is that it was invented in a shipyard in Capri. This would probably be the humble origin of this dish known throughout Italy and around the world.
It is said that the three tasty ingredients were brought together for the first time by a builder, particularly proud of his homeland, who wanted to pay homage to the colors of the Italian flag by filling his sandwich with foods reminiscent of the white, red and green of the flag of the Italian Republic.
According to other accounts, the third hypothesis about the invention of caprese salad, says it all started as a tribute to Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876 – 1944), an Italian writer and poet, who was the founder of the futurist movement at the beginning of the twentieth century.
In 1909, the newspaper, Le Figarò published Il Manifesto Gastronomico Futurista (“The Futuristic Gastronomic Manifesto”) by Marinetti in which he bluntly criticized traditional Italian cuisine, calling it “too heavy and boring”. He hated pasta and said it was, “passatista di pesantezza!” (“heavy handed”).
Marinetti therefore decided to seek the harmony of food through colors, flavors and above all, creative originality.
In 1922, on the occasion of his visit to Capri, Marinetti, then speaker of the Convegno Italiano per la Difesa del Paesaggio (Italian Conference for the Defense of the Landscape), during a “futuristic” dinner was served at the Grand Hotel Quisisana , among other dishes, insalata caprese, in the colors of the Italian flag, to great triumph.
Nicknamed “the white gold of Campania”, mozzarella is a spun-curd cheese made from buffalo or cow’s milk.
When it comes to mozzarella, you have to distinguish between classic mozzarella and mozzarella di bufala campana. But, regardless of the type, it is always a spun-curd cheese.
Moreover, the discovery of mozzarella is linked to the error of a monk in Campania, who dropped curds in hot water and, at the same time, discovered the art of spinning them.
Mozzarella di bufala campagna is produced in Campania, in southwestern Italy. It’s made with water buffalo milk, which is rich in protein, and has been the subject of a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) since 1996.
In Italy, cow’s milk mozzarella is made and marketed under the name of mozzarella, mozzarella di latte vaccino, or fior di latte.
Buffalo mozzarella is characterized by a very fresh, soft and melt-in-the-mouth texture, with a very mild milky taste.
Cow’s milk mozzarella, on the other hand, is commonly nicknamed fior di latte or bocconcini (“morsels”). It is much less tasty, and less rich in fat than buffalo mozzarella. It’s more affordable, and is not protected by a PDO. It can be produced anywhere in the world.
Mozzarella takes its name from its specific manufacturing process. In Italian, the verb mozzare (“to cut off”), refers to the curds, hand-stretched into a ribbon, and then cut into balls. About 10½ quarts (10 liters) of milk are needed to produce 2 lbs (1 kg) of mozzarella.
The curd is obtained thanks to rennet, an agent that makes it possible to curdle the milk. Once the curd is obtained, it is cut and immersed in water heated between 176 and 194 F (80-90°C).
Spinning then begins, and consists of stretching the curds several times until a homogeneous mixture is obtained. This is when the cheese is cut to give it its final ball shape.
Toss cherry tomatoes with 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl season with salt.
Arrange tomato slices on a platter, slightly overlapping season generously with salt. Arrange mozzarella over tomatoes lightly season mozzarella with salt. Spoon cherry tomatoes over salad and drizzle with 6 Tbsp. oil season with pepper. Let stand 30 minutes to let flavors meld and release juices from tomatoes and mozzarella.
Top salad with basil and additional salt and oil, if desired. Serve with bread alongside.
How would you rate Ultimate Caprese Salad?
Heirloom tomatoes are DEVINE! The rustic quality combined with the many flavors is a real summer treat. I chop them roughly, toss with lemon olive oil, lots of salt and coarse pepper, then sprinkle shredded parmesan or Romano cheese on top. A glass of Pinot noir tips it all off. YAY!!
Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.
You can make this salad up to a few hours ahead and let it sit at room temperature. If you want to make it a day ahead, that’s fine, too, though in a perfect world tomatoes never see the inside of a refrigerator, and you would have to refrigerate this overnight. Make sure to bring to room temperature before serving, and if possible, slice and add the basil at the last minute.
For a pretty perfect simple summer meal, how about this paired up with Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad? I really could think of nothing better on a hot summer afternoon or evening.
Other recipes with cherry or grape tomatoes:
Like this recipe? Pin it to your favorite board on Pinterest.Pin This
First put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them.
Leave them for 1 minute, then drain and slip the skins off using a cloth to protect your hands if necessary. You can watch how to do this in our Cookery School Video on tihs page. Then slice the tomatoes thinly. All you do now is arrange the slices of Mozzarella and tomato in layers, either in rows or concentric circles, on a serving dish.
Scatter the whole basil leaves over them, then, just before serving, sprinkle with plenty of salt and freshly milled black pepper and drizzle the oil all over. Serve with some ciabatta bread, warmed a little in the oven to the crispy stage.
More Appetizer Recipes
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Caprese salad is SO good, and to make it bite size is brilliant! Yum!
looks so elegant- great idea for a party or somethin!
Awesome way to make caprise salad! This is also a great approach to creating bruschetta, both of which to my family and me are best in the most simple form, as you so well describe here. Either one could easily be the appetizer or main course on hot summer days. There are no additional ingredients needed, as using slices of mozzarella topped with a garden’s sliced heirloom tomatoes and basil leaves, with salt and pepper, stacked atop the slices of crusty bread grilled with a little olive oil in a cast iron skillet, (to which some like to add a bit of finely chopped garlic), brings all of the beautiful fresh flavors together.
I look forward to trying the dressing you recommend, as it will surely further enhance a classic recipe.
Hoping all may enjoy their backyard or farmers’ market summer bounty, and stay safe and well!
Welcome to Oh So! A cooking lifestyle blog sharing recipes, DIY, decor and more. Come join the fun for foodie and family love. click to read more!
Sign up to receive a free pantry list and get recipes straight to your inbox!
What Are Heirloom Tomatoes?
Heirloom tomatoes are what tomatoes used to be before all of the variety and flavor were bred out of them so they could be more easily transported in trucks to supermarkets.
You can find them at farmers' markets, Whole Foods and many supermarkets these days, or you can grow your own. They come in many shades of red, yellow, orange, and green, and are somewhat oddly shaped compared to everyday beefsteak tomatoes.
Heirloom tomatoes bruise more easily than conventional tomatoes, so you have to handle them with a little more care. They cost more, too, but they're worth it! They're juicy and have wonderful flavor.
Caprese Salad – Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil
Today, I revisit the world of beautiful Italian simplicity, the Caprese Salad. Borne out of luscious hot summers that gift the Italian land with amazing tomatoes, they marry with thick wedges of traditional Mozzarella di Bufala Campana perfectly, creating a dish that deserves only the best ingredients, and nothing else will do. Along with it’s stablemate, the Tricolore Salad, the Caprese sits in the throne of elegant beauty amongst dishes, so often bastardised by those who don’t know better. On the other hand, you, my friend, do know better, or at least you will do, in about 730 words time.
Last year I published a rant about how Italian food is debased by people’s interpretations of it. Italian dishes often require just a few ingredients, which makes them incredibly accessible and simple, but they should be the most amazing examples of the ingredients that you can find.
A few weeks after I wrote the aforementioned rant, I was delighted to be invited to a family meal being held at a traditional, English Italian restaurant. It was the kind of place that had a dessert display cabinet stocked with carbon copy cream cakes, delivered by the same wholesaler who supplied most English restaurants with desserts during my childhood in the 1980’s. You know the type.
As we sat down, a member of my family commented on my Italian food-rant blog post, before saying “I wonder what you’ll think of the food here…”. I felt a sense of foreboding creep through me.
Giving them a chance, I ordered the simplest thing on the menu to start, a Caprese salad. It has just three ingredients (well, four, or even six if you count olive oil, salt and pepper), that merely need to be sliced and presented on a plate. What could go wrong?
When it came out, my immediate reaction was disappointment. Insipid tomatoes languished amongst pre-formed vac-pac-plastic looking mozzarella. Eating with my eyes first had not met the grade. Perhaps, hidden amongst this disappointment, there would be great flavours to pirouette around my tastebuds and fulfil my gastronomic desires.
Perhaps not. The olive oil was average, at best. The tomatoes were a watery, limp mess and the mozzarella was clearly di mucca, sliced into plain, anodyne lifeless lumps of rubbery cheese which held no flavour. It was a disaster. Oh, the basil was OK.
My thoughts turned immediately to Gordon Ramsay in his Kitchen Nightmares series. I loved the programme when it came out in 2004, back in the days when I would spend my evenings slumped on the sofa, staring at the TV, wondering why amazing things were not happening to me in life. Duh, it’s because you’re hungover, drinking beer, watching TV, you bloody idiot. Anyway, if Ramsay visited this restaurant and ordered the Caprese, I imagined him turning to the camera whilst waiting to be served and saying “it’s the most simple dish, easy to make, with only a few ingredients. They’ll need to try really hard to fuck this one up”.
For the love of God, Italian food, your sanity and the beautiful experience of life, I recommend that you never plan to make this recipe. Don’t put it on the shopping list, don’t decide to do it as part of a buffet, or a picnic. Just remember these words, take them into your soul, deep into the roots of your mind, so that one day in the summer, when you’re visiting a farmer’s market and see the most perfect, beautiful, ripe tomatoes at the height of your native tomato growing season, you’ll think “ooohhhh, perfect tomatoes… mmmmm, Caprese salad”. From therein, you just need the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, basil and good quality extra virgin olive oil, which are all available at good supermarkets.
Let the tomatoes do the talking. One day, when they appear in your life saying “let’s do it, let’s make Caprese salad”, then just do it.
Serves 2 as a side
Takes 10 minutes
Uses a knife, chopping board and plate.
1 large fantastic tomato
1 ball of amazing mozzarella di bufala campana
A small bunch of garden fresh basil
A drizzle of beautiful extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground salt and pepper
Layer the tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves alternately on a plate, then drizzle with olive oil and grind fresh salt and pepper over the top.
What kind of cheese is in caprese salad?
Fresh mozzarella! Because so few ingredients go into this dish, splurge a little and get the good stuff. Find a big ball of fresh, creamy, delicious mozzarella and don’t cut into it until you’re ready to make your salad. Trust me, it’s worth it!
What’s the good stuff? Check the ingredient list, it should only list milk, salt, rennet and enzymes. If you see “curd” or “citric acid”, it’s likely cheaper and won’t be as flavorful.
Aka CAPRESE Salad
This tomato mozzarella salad is one of my all time favorite foods. It’s a quick and simple salad that can be whipped up in no time. Whether it’s a side or appetizer – it can’t be beat.
Something about the combination of fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, thick mozzarella cheese, and a drizzle of that balsamic glaze is so amazingly delicious.
Ever wonder why it’s called a “Caprese” salad? This salad comes from Italy – from the island of Capri! That’s where it get’s it name. It was there that this salad
More tomato salad recipes
There are so many ways to make a tomato salad! Here are some of our favorite tomato recipes that vary this concept by adding and changing up ingredients and styles of cuisine:
- A symphony of beautiful summer flavors! Add cucumber and red onion and you’ve got a unique spin. This one features Mexican style flavors: add avocado, lime and cilantro. Accessorize burrata with tomatoes and arugula for a showstopper. The quintessential Mediterranean tomato salad!
More with fresh tomatoes? Try the showstopping Amazing Tomato Pie, or quick and easy Cherry Tomato Pasta with sweet blistered tomatoes.