Classic Insalata Caprese (Tomato Mozzarella Salad) is the perfect quick appetizer or salad packed with summer flavors! Light, refreshing and so easy to make! A great way to enjoy in-season tomatoes at the fullest.
Sometimes you don’t need to re-invent a wheel because the classic is just perfect in its simplicity. That’s the case with this classic tomato and mozzarella salad or Insalata Caprese. Tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, balsamic reduction, extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. I would only add a crusty slice of ciabatta bread to it to soak the juices and maybe a glass of wine.
Caprese salad is the essence of summer. Light, flavorful and refreshing tomato mozzarella combo is always a winner. Think pizza (or pizza wraps), pasta and pasta salads, lasagna, sandwiches, bruschetta, panini, skewers, stuffed avocados… There is a lot more to it to try out!
Tomato mozzarella combo is by far the most popular in Italian cuisine and it is for a reason. Mozzarella softens the acidity of tomatoes making them a perfect pairing for mild milky mozzarella cheese.
Just like pizza Margherita, Caprese salad features red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag. It originates from Capri, hence the name.
This Insalata Caprese is one of my favorite salads of all times, especially for when I’m in a hurry (spoiler: always!). It is absolutely perfect for summer!
What wine pairs the best with Caprese salad?
When pairing wine with Insalata Caprese, choose light acidic wines, either white or red. Avoid heavy, tannic, full-bodied wines with low acidity like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. Opt for crisp, tart and dry wines as they will taste less acidic and more fruity when paired with raw tomatoes.
My choice of wines that pair well with Caprese salad:
- Pinot Grigio (white);
- Muscadet (white);
- Sauvignon Blanc (white);
- Soave (white);
- Barbera (red);
- Frescobaldi Pater Sangiovese (red).
How to Make Insalata Caprese (Tomato and Mozzarella salad)
Since there are only two main ingredients, it makes sense to use the best tomatoes and mozzarella you can get.
Tomatoes should be fresh, juicy, ripe and sweet. They taste the best in summer. Take any kind you want, red, yellow, black, heilroom, beefsteak or just Roma tomatoes. Go for the best quality you can find at your local farmers market. Here is a complete guide to the different types of tomatoes.
You can also use your favorite mozzarella cheese: Regular mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, even burrata (it’s hard to slice it but the taste makes up for it). Check this guide to mozzarella varieties. Did you know there are 9 types of mozzarella cheese?
Once you’ve got your tomatoes and mozzarella, slice them with a very sharp knife. Mozzarella slices the best when it is straight out of the fridge.
If possible, use fresh sweet basil for Insalata Caprese. I grow my own to make sure it’s as fresh as possible. You can also buy fresh basil stems at the grocery store and keep them in a glass of water in the fridge.
Layer tomatoes and mozzarella on a plate, placing a slice of tomato (I used two slices to make the salad lighter and also because I used red and yellow tomatoes), then a slice of mozzarella until you run out of them. I like layering as it gives a pretty look to simple dishes like ratouille, one of my all-time favorites.
You can also add a basil leaf after mozzarella every time but I prefer to either chop basil and sprinkle on top or just place some basil leaves around or on top of the salad not to overpower it with intense basil taste.
Drizzle your Caprese salad with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Additionally, I like to drizzle my Insalata Caprese with balsamic reduction as it highlights the sweetness of tomatoes in a nice way.
Insalata Caprese is best when served with crusty ciabatta bread and a glass of wine. Perfect light appetizer on a hot summer day!
Here is the full recipe of how to make the best classic Insalata Caprese:
Classic Insalata Caprese (Tomato and Mozzarella Salad)
- 2-4 ripe in-season tomatoes depending on the size
- 7 oz or 200 g mozzarella
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic reduction optional
- crusty ciabatta bread, wine optional but strongly recommended 🙂
- Slice tomatoes and mozzarella with a very sharp knife into 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) slices. Mozzarella slices the best when it is straight out of the fridge.
- Layer tomatoes and mozzarella on a plate, placing a slice of tomato, then a slice of mozzarella until you run out of them.
- Place some basil leaves around or on top of the salad. Drizzle the Caprese salad with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Drizzle with balsamic reduction (optional).
- Insalata Caprese tastes best when served with crusty ciabatta bread and a glass of wine (see wine suggestions above). Enjoy!