Easy Caprese Salad Two Ways

by Maris Callahan on April 24, 2011

Caprese salad is probably the easiest salad in the world to throw together. The process is pretty much as follows: slice cheese, slice tomatoes, tear basil and drizzle with olive oil. Yet, I don’t know too many people who frequently enjoy caprese salads in the comfort of their own homes – or anywhere outside of an Italian (or Italian-ish) restaurant.

According to Epicurious.com, the salad was created in the 1950s at the Trattoria da Vincenzo for regulars out for a light lunch. They’d order a just-picked tomato and fresh fior di latte (cow’s-milk mozzarella). The salad has since evolved in Capri to include arugula, but everywhere else in Italy it features simple tomato, mozzarella and basil – always with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil as dressing.

With farmers markets beginning to reopen for the season and fresh tomatoes slowly making an appearance across the US it seemed like there could be no better time to share a purist recipe – one with four ingredients, fresh ingredients, that makes a perfect lunch with a piece of crusty bread or a nice appetizer at a summer picnic or cookout.

Keep in mind that your caprese salad does not have to be perfect. If you can’t slice your mozzarella cheese into perfectly round circles — or if you can’t tear your basil into even pieces – don’t think twice about it.

It’s rustic.

It’s better that way.

Easy Caprese Salad – Two Ways
Serves 4

What You Need:

8 ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese (from the cheese counter at some markets or dairy aisle in your grocery store – you can also pick up two smaller balls as long as they net approximately 8 ounces)
1 large ripe tomatoes, sliced into 8 pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed and torn into small pieces (I like them a little smaller than an average postage stamp)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

How-To:

For Caprese Stacks

Slice mozzarella cheese into 1/4-inch pieces. Place eight slices onto a plate. Top each piece of cheese with a slice of tomato and a a piece of fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil, season salad with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

For Layered Caprese:

Slice mozzarella cheese into 1/4-inch pieces. On a plate, arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper an serve immediately.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

NancyC April 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Yum–Caprese salad is a favorite of mine, especially in the summer! I like the idea of making Caprese Stacks–that would make a great appetizer, too. And I agree that rustic is better–much more interesting than having everything perfectly-shaped! Happy Easter!

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Bee April 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm

LOVE Caprese salad! I like it with a little drizzle of balsamic reduction too–cup of balsamic vinegar, cup of cabernet (or red of your choice!) and simmer until reduced to syrup-like consistency. Yummm!

Happy Easter to you too! I made an eggplant dip for my family gathering, what did you make?

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Sukaina April 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm

I’ve never had a caprese salad before (shock horror!). I like tha fact that you’ve served them as individual bites, almost like an amuse bouche. Hope you had a wonderful Easter too.

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Vanessa April 24, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Wishing you a very blessed Easter!! I LOVE caprese salad and it sounds soooo appealing on this day filled with heavy food and sweets.

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Roz April 24, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Hi Maris, this is one of my FAVORITE salads. So simple, yet soooo delicous. Hope you are having a good Easter weekend!!!

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daryl April 24, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Pretty pictures! I like the idea of individual serving sizes!

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AmyRuth April 24, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Hi….one of my favs in summer is cherry tom’s with the little round pearls of mozzarella, torn basil and all the other fixins + a little drizzle of balsamic. Hmm I am looking forward to sunny salads.
AmyRuth

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Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets April 24, 2011 at 11:19 pm

MMm I just discovered caprese salad recently. So delicious and fresh!

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Autumn @ Good Eats Girl April 24, 2011 at 11:28 pm

These look so perfect and summery!

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leslie April 25, 2011 at 12:01 am

This is my favorite!!! I could possibly live on it!

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Erica April 25, 2011 at 12:04 am

Yum :) This is one of my most favorite salads! We actually had it earlier this week. Fresh /local cheese, tomatoes & basil make it THAT much better. Hope you had a great Sunday

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Ellie@fitforthesoul April 25, 2011 at 12:59 am

I still remember the first time I tried caprese–dee-vine!!! I think I always say this, but I love these pics they’re so nice and clean~have a blessed night :D

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Christina @ Sweet Pea's Kitchen April 25, 2011 at 3:07 am

Mmmm…I make caprese salads all the time! I love to make them with buffalo mozzarella. Mmmm… :D

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Amanda April 25, 2011 at 3:54 am

Absolutely divine! I love Caprese salad. I make it for spring and summer parties and I never have any leftovers.

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Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella April 25, 2011 at 8:49 am

That looks gorgeous Marla! I also love the fact that Caprese salad looks like the Italian flag! :D

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Blond Duck April 25, 2011 at 10:19 am

That looks like a perfect summer dinner!

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Heather @girlichef April 25, 2011 at 11:25 am

Yup, it’s like a plate full of summer! Caprese is my favorite summertime meal….in all of its glorious variations. You totally have me craving summer now :)

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Liz April 25, 2011 at 11:53 am

I think I ate this salad almost every day when we visited Italy! I love your stacks…beautiful photos!

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Gen April 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Caprese salad is sooo good!!! The family who lived in front of us when we were in the States had a basil plant that she let us use!!!!! She would also make caprese salad and bring it over all the time!

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Kristen April 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

One of my favorite salads! Oh how I can’t wait for fresh tomatoes!

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Beth @ DiningAndDishing April 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I LOVE caprese salad! As tomatoes get in season soon this will definitely be a must :) .

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Jessica April 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm

You might just have convinced me to try this. I have never been a fan of caprese because although I love tomatotes I don’t like them alone. They have to mixed up in something or on m hamburger but this just looks too delicious to pass up!

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Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday April 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I one had a caprese salad stack skewered on a sprig of rosemary. I thought that was kinda cool and the rosemary offered an additional herb flavour to the standard basil.

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Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking April 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I LOVE making caprese salad and yours looks delish! I combine a little balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper with the olive oil though, and drizzle it over. Incredible flavor combination – you should try it next time! Thanks for sharing, Maris. Have a great start to the week!

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pigpigscorner April 25, 2011 at 3:02 pm

This is so simple and delicious! Great party food!

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Tessa April 25, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Mmm love myself a simple and rustic salad! I like to roast my tomatoes for caprese since they aren’t always the freshest here. Your little stacks would be perfect for entertaining :)

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Sommer@ASpicyPerspective April 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm

A favorite classic! Gorgeous. :)

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Tracy April 25, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Looks delicious!!

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Kate April 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Yum! Love this. I love caprese salad as I am sure you know. Thanks for sharing!

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Gaby April 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm

wow! this looks like my kinda appetizer :) And the fresh mozzarella cheese – omg yes please!!

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Sophia @ Raven Waves April 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Caprese salads are one of my favorites! You’re so right…they’re so easy to make!! YUM!

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Lauren@LittleYellowKitchen April 25, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Great pictures! I love caprese. So simple but its always so good!

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Susan April 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm

One of my favorite salads! I can’t wait for basil and tomatoes to be growing in my garden so I can make it with the freshest ingredients.

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brandi@BranAppetit April 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I LOVE caprese salads and cannot wait for fresh tomatoes this summer.

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bellini April 25, 2011 at 8:38 pm

You’re righ, caprese salad is not simething I used to make a home. I think the selection of cheeses is just much better and once tomato season arrives we have hit pay dirt!

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Caroline April 25, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Yum! These look absolutely delicious. I’m really enjoying your blog and am definitely going to follow you. :)

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The Food Hunter April 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm

You have some great photos of one of my favorite dishes.

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Mary April 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm

This looks wonderful. It’s one of those dishes that is simple yet sophisticated at the same time. I hope you have a great evening. Blessings…Mary

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Joanne April 26, 2011 at 12:20 am

This salad may be simple…but it’s also possibly one of the most delicious things that exists in this world. The combination of basil, mozzarella, and tomato is just perfection on a plate!

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Simply Life April 26, 2011 at 1:02 am

oh I LOVE these flavors combined!!

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Juliana April 26, 2011 at 1:43 am

I love this salad…and cannot get enough of it…luckily is is simple…your pictures are very inviting…yummie! Hope you have a great week ahead Maris :-)

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Suzy Eats April 26, 2011 at 2:15 am

great info on the history. this looks so good. one of my favorite salads and definitely one of the healthiest!

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Cookin' Canuck April 26, 2011 at 2:37 am

Caprese salad is something I look forward to every summer when our garden starts to flourish. There is simply nothing better than sun-warmed tomatoes and basil with some fresh mozzarella and a fruity olive oil. Beautiful, Maris!

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alyssa - fashion fitness foodie April 26, 2011 at 2:43 am

Caprese salad is DEF one of my favorites. i love mozzarella :) It is so easy, yet i rarely make it!! It’s a perfect spring/summer dish!

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Pudding Pie Lane April 26, 2011 at 8:21 am

This looks very professionally done, and so healthy and good for summer! Yum :) Can’t believe this salad if only 50 years old, it’s such a classic combination that I thought it would have been around for longer!

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Kelly Voelker April 26, 2011 at 11:15 am

Caprese salad is my absolute favorite! I like mine with a few Kalamata olives and some of the oil from the jar drizzled over mine :) Now I am craving this for lunch!

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Dana April 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Oh yum… I cannot wait for delicious summer produce, including ripe juicy tomatoes for caprese salads!

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Rosa April 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm

A perfect summer dish! I really like the first version.

Cheers,

Rosa

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Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet April 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm

This is one of the salads I look forward to in summer. One of the reasons that I plant my own tomatoes and basil. What a treat!

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SMITH BITES April 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm

we have caprese salad at least once a week during the summer when the tomatoes are in season – just does not get any better than this right here! Add some good bread and dinner is served!

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Kelly April 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I love a caprese salad, it’s one of those things that is so classic that it’s hard not to love, especially when tomatoes are in season and it’s made with great produce. Sometimes I like to switch it up and use some burrata instead of mozzarella since it is so rich and luscious.

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My Little Expat Kitchen April 26, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I love this simple salad. I have made it many times and it always is a crowd pleaser. I have to say that the most delicious things are usually the simplest. As long as everything’s fresh I am all for salads all the way!
Magda

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Tanvi@SinfullySpicy April 26, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I love how you have served the individual servings.Awesome and really fresh looking salad.

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Lisa @ Tarte du Jour April 27, 2011 at 12:18 am

I love a good Caprese! Gorgeous photos… so fresh and simple…. it’s not simple to be simple.

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Alexandra (Veggin' Out in the Kitchen) April 27, 2011 at 11:45 am

Caprese salad is my FAVORITE!! Thanks so much for posting such a delicious looking recipe for it! :D And your pictures of it are absolutely gorgeous!

<3

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Min {Honest Vanilla} April 27, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Oh you’re right on about the easiness :) I usually like to tear the mozzarella, something about the chewiness that’s appetizing!

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chopinandmysaucepan April 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

This is probably the easiest and tastiest salad that one can make and the drizzle of EVOO and some freshly cracked black pepper makes it so delicious.

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Barbara @ Barbara Bakes April 27, 2011 at 11:18 pm

I love this salad. You’ve got me craving farmer’s market tomatoes now.

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Reeni April 28, 2011 at 12:12 am

I so look forward to making this with tomatoes from my own garden! It is one of the best things summer has to offer. So simple and so rewarding.

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Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook April 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Love caprese salad! Yours looks so good!

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Lisa N April 29, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Gosh, this post makes me excited for MN to get warmer weather! Caprese is always a spring/summer food for me. I eat it while enjoying patios a lot :)

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Tenina April 30, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I LOVE caprese salad…or caprese pizza, or torte caprese…wait, I digress…
Gorgeous pics… :)

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Audrey Ellen @ My Scene and Herd May 3, 2011 at 7:49 pm

My family makes this all the time in the summer and we often add toasted pine nuts, it really adds something extra!

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