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What is Caprese?
An Italian term, the word caprese refers to the combination of fresh Mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, sweet basil, salt, and olive oil. Most commonly it applies to the ever-popular caprese salad which originated in Capri, Italy. However, it can also be applied to pasta, pizza, and sandwiches as long as the traditional ingredients are present.
With such simple ingredients and bold flavor, it’s no mystery why the flavors have become so popular.
What You’ll Love About Caprese
- There are just 5 simple, budget-friendly ingredients that create the dish.
- You can keep it completely vegetarian or add your favorite protein.
- It’s easy to transform into an extravagant meal by combining it with all your favorite foods.
- With no cooking required, it comes together in mere minutes.
- It’s light enough to serve as an appetizer yet filling enough to be a complete meal.
- Full of nutrients and fiber, it’s a recipe you can feel good about eating.
Key Ingredients for Caprese Salad
Though there are many different versions of caprese salads, the primary ingredients remain the same. Here’s what you need:
- Fresh tomatoes form the base of the dish. Typically, Heirloom tomatoes are used but feel free to mix and match all your favorites.
- Plenty of fresh Mozzarella belongs here! There’s nothing quite like the slightly salty, creamy taste and texture, and we highlight it even more with a pinch of salt.
- Aside from pesto sauce, this is your best chance to use lots and lots of basil. Sweet and peppery, its fresh flavor is a staple for this recipe.
- Good quality olive oil is key. Since there are so few ingredients, splurging for a top-notch oil and enhancing it even further with a dash of balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze, which is thicker and sweeter, will take your salad from good to great.
How to Make Caprese Salad
It may look fancy, but caprese couldn’t be easier to make. Here’s what to do:
- Use a sharp knife to thinly slice the tomatoes and cheese.
- Layer the slices on a plate, letting them overlap to form a pattern of red and white.
- Tuck fresh basil leaves in between the layers, and feel free to add more on top.
- Sprinkle a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper on top to bring out the natural flavors even further.
- Finish off your salad with a generous drizzle of your favorite olive oil and balsamic or better yet, balsamic glaze.
Caprese Commonly Asked Questions
The Italian word is pronounced kah-pray-zay, with emphasis on the middle syllable. Not only is Caprese delicious, but it’s super fun to say.
Caprese is most often served as a salad. Meanwhile, bruschetta is a dish made with small pieces of toasted bread topped with a tomato and basil mixture.
Although often confused, the two are not the same. Mozzarella is the type of cheese used to make caprese.
Caprese is best served fresh but can be kept covered at room temperature for a few hours.
More to Cook and Eat
- Strawberry Avocado Caprese Salad – this is hands down the BEST summer salad we’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying.
- Caprese Pasta Salad with Basil Pesto – we love preparing this dish ahead of time for filling meal prep you’ll dream about devouring.
- Mango Caprese with Basil – this is our solution for those times of the year when you’re craving Caprese but fresh tomatoes just can’t be found.
- Grilled Peach Caprese – we’re obsessed with the sweet and smoky taste of this healthy appetizer.
- Tortellini Pasta Salad with Pest Sauce, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella – dinner doesn’t get better than this; vibrant and filling, this simple pasta dish is a winning weeknight meal.
- Layer: Arrange sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella on a large plate so that they overlap.
- Garnish: Tuck the basil leaves in between the layers of tomatoes and Mozzarella, using as much or as little as you'd like. Then, sprinkle a bit of kosher salt and black pepper on top.
- Drizzle and Serve: To finish the caprese, drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top, making sure each slice receives a drizzle. Serve immediately.
Did you make this?
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