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Conjure up a summer in Capri with this simple Italian salad.

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What Is a Caprese Salad?

Caprese salad (known as insalata Caprese in Italy) is an Italian salad that features basil leaves, mozzarella, and summer tomatoes. Each of the three main components represents a color from the Italian flag: bright green layers of fresh basil leaves, snowy white mozzarella cheese, and bright red slices of summer tomatoes, all sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. The summer salad is typically served as an appetizer or side dish in the summertime when fresh tomatoes are abundant.

5 Caprese Salad Variations

In Italy, a traditional insalata Caprese is served in a layered form, with thick slices of tomatoes topped with equal-size slices of mozzarella cheese, each garnished with a single basil leaf. But that's not the only way to enjoy the flavors of this summer salad. Check out these Caprese salad variations:

  1. Caprese salad skewers. Turn Caprese salad into finger food by threading small mozzarella balls onto skewers with cherry tomatoes, with a basil leaf in between each component.
  2. Caprese salad with burrata. For an added layer of decadence, make a burrata Caprese salad. Place a ball of creamy fresh burrata in the middle of a serving platter, and arrange the tomato salad around the cheese. Serve with crusty bread.
  3. Avocado Caprese salad. For a vegan alternative, try replacing the mozzarella cheese in Caprese salad with slices of creamy avocado.
  4. Caprese grilled cheese. So you've discovered Caprese salad pairs perfectly with crusty bread. Why not turn it into a grilled cheese? Swap the fresh basil for pesto and layer sliced mozzarella with slices of ripe tomato between two slices of country-style bread. Grill in a panini press or on the stovetop.
  5. Heirloom tomato Caprese salad. In the summertime, when farmers’ markets are overflowing with heirloom tomatoes, there's nothing better (or easier) to do with the bounty than show them off in a Caprese salad. It might not have the traditional coloring of an Italian insalata Caprese, but it will still be tasty.
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Classic Caprese Salad Recipe

Serves
4
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, preferably mozzarella di bufala, cold
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, room temperature
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 8–10 fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Slice the cold mozzarella cheese about ¼ inch thick and set on a plate, covered, at room temperature.
  2. Slice the tomatoes about ¼ inch thick and generously sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
  3. When the cheese has come to room temperature, compose the salad. On a serving platter, top each tomato slice with a slice of mozzarella and one basil leaf. Drizzle any leftover tomato liquid over the salad.
  4. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper.

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