Caprese salad (Italian: Insalata Caprese, meaning “Salad of Capri”) is a simple Italian salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella (ideally Buffalo mozzarella), tomatoes, and green basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil. It is made to resemble the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green. In Italy, it is usually served as a starter, not a side dish.

While Caprese salad is traditionally seasoned with olive oil and oregano, there are variations seasoned with pesto and other sauces, like Italian dressing. Some variations substitute basil with rocket leaves (rúcula). In further variations other non-traditional ingredients, like chopped garlic, parsley, olives, or romaine lettuce, are also added.

Serves 4-6

600g red ripe tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
300-350g fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
Maldon salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Basil leaves

Pesto Sauce (optional) – click here for recipe.

Slice the tomatoes or, if using cherry tomatoes, cut in half.  It’s up to you whether you choose to arrange the plate with sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella, or pile the halved cherry tomatoes in the middle of the plate with an individual mozzarella per portion.  You can then choose whether to serve the salad seasoned with salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, drizzled with olive oil and decorated with fresh basil leaves or with a pesto sauce.  I myself am a glutton for pesto, and wouldn’t have this salad any other way!  As you can see, the sauce can either be made by hand in a pestle and mortar with just minced basil, a touch of garlic and olive oil until it reaches the right consistency (to taste) or you can make it in a blender with the addition of the traditional pine nuts (and/or walnuts) and Parmesan cheese.

Ensalada Caprese, Dinner at the Italian, July 2013