As you are well aware, Italians take their food seriously. This, most definitely, extends to salads. For Italians, the salad usually comes at the end of the meal, and since it’s the last component of dinner, it gets every bit of attention as any other. There are so many wonderful options for salads; but I love a good caprese. It might, in fact, be one of my favorite salads (besides a good arugula salad of course!). It’s a simple salad, but so enjoyable. To me, a caprese is the epitome of Italian food: a few ingredients, simple, but with the right combination of flavours , it becomes absolutely, mouth-wateringly, delicious.
In a caprese, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil, come together to make the most flavorful salad. The ingredients work together so perfectly that it’s hard to imagine the salad with anything else added to it. It just wouldn’t be a proper caprese salad any other way.
While I can’t remember the first time I had a caprese, it’s probably because it’s always been so ingrained in my memory. I will order it at restaurants, and I will make it at home. If I haven’t had a caprese in a while, I will go buy some fresh mozzarella and whip one up.
Since a caprese has so few ingredients, it’s imperative to get those ingredients right to make the best caprese salad.
Here are my tips for making the perfect caprese salad:
- Use only fresh mozzarella or burrata
The key to the best caprese is the freshest ingredients. And that starts with the cheese you’re using. Get the absolute best, fresh mozzarella you can find. Fresh mozzarella di bufala or burrata would be best. No dry mozzarella, or the pre-sliced mozzarella. You’ll be able to taste the mozzarella in a caprese distinctly. Something like a pizza can stand a medium-quality mozzarella because it’s combined with so many other ingredients and cooked. But a caprese is the opposite, there’s only a few other other ingredients in the salad, so each one counts. I buy my mozzarella di bufala or burrata at the local Italian grocery stores in Vancouver. If you have one in your city, that’s probably your best bet to find the highest quality cheese for your caprese.
- Find the best tomatoes
I’m not going to lie, sometimes the tomatoes you can find at the supermarket aren’t the best. They can be watery, and not flavorful. Do your best to find the ripest, locally-grown tomatoes, since those are most likely the ones to have the most flavour. I usually buy my tomatoes for a caprese at the farmer’s market and they are super flavorful. If you can, try to get different varieties of tomatoes and colors, as a variety of tomatoes adds more interest and texture to the salad.
- Don’t skip the basil
Confession: I tried to make a caprese once and didn’t have fresh basil on hand, so used dried oregano instead. It was a bad idea. A caprese needs fresh basil, and it should be Italian basil (not thai, or another variety). The basil adds a brightness and depth to the salad that would be lacking without it. I try to grow my own basil in the summer and pick it fresh just before I assemble my caprese. Sans fresh basil, it would just be a tomato and mozzarella salad. I don’t think it could be classified as a caprese without basil!
And that’s it! My tips to make the perfect caprese. Just add some good olive oil, salt and you’re golden! As long as you have the right ingredients, I don’t think it matters how you assemble it, whether you stack the mozzarella on the sliced tomato, mix everything together in a bowl, or skewer them, it shouldn’t matter as long as you have the best ingredients (ie. follow these 3 tips)! A caprese salad is a great reminder that simplicity and quality can often lead to wonderful results!
Recipe for this burrata caprese salad is below!
Burrata Caprese Salad
A caprese salad is a simple salad, and instead of adding mozzarella, this one uses burrata. The burrata adds a nice creaminess to the salad and works perfectly with the tomatoes and basil.
- 3 cups tomatoes (cut into bite-size pieces)
- 1 ball of burrata
- 2 tsp olive oil, plus more for drizzle
- fresh Italian basil, shredded into small pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
Add tomatoes to a plate and season with olive oil, basil, salt and pepper.
Place burrata ball on top of tomatoes and drizzle with extra olive oil, salt and pepper. Top burrata with more fresh basil.