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 better that way.
Easy Caprese Salad – Two Ways
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)
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.