Carole Yu

Easy Insalata Caprese Recipe – Quick Italian Salad

EASY INSALATA CAPRESE IS A REVELATION!

In today’s bustling life, finding a quick yet delicious meal that satisfies everyone can be a real challenge.  Italian dishes often are straightforward and simple.  And that’s clearly the case with our Easy Insalata Caprese.

This dish holds a special place in my heart, inspired by the year I spent living in Rome when my late husband won the prestigious Prix-de-Rome prize. During this amazing experience, I was pregnant with Dara, and Elena was immersed in Italian scuola elementare . We merged into the culture of Rome as we explored the culinary delights of Italy. This recipe, which can be prepared in just 10-15 minutes, combines fresh, quality ingredients for a sublime yet simple culinary experience.

Insalata Caprese with a vibrant photo that captures the lush red of organic heirloom tomatoes, the pristine white of buffalo mozzarella, and the fresh green of basil leaves, all artfully drizzled with golden olive oil and rich balsamic vinegar dressing.

THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION FOR BUSY EVENINGS

Whether you’re aiming for a refreshing appetizer or a light dinner, our Easy Insalata Caprese is perfect. It’s not just quick to assemble; it’s a feast for the senses, ideal for those who value the finest ingredients in their most natural form.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED FOR EASY INSALATA CAPRESE

This recipe highlights a few straightforward ingredients that blend harmoniously:

  • Organic heirloom tomatoes for their deep, rich flavor
  • Buffalo mozzarella for its delicate, creamy texture
  • Fresh organic basil for a burst of freshness
  • High-quality balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for dressing
  • Salt and pepper to enhance the flavors

PREFER TO WATCH INSTEAD OF READ?

STEP-BY-STEP: CRAFTING THE PERFECT CAPRESE

The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity. Follow these steps to assemble a beautiful Caprese salad:

  1. Slice the heirloom tomatoes and layer on a serving plate.
A juicy red heirloom tomato being cut into 1/4" slices on a bamboo cutting board.

2. Next, cut the mozzarella to similar thickness and place on top of tomatoes.

Dark Grey platter with juicy slices of red heirloom tomatoes, topped with buffalo mozzarella, all on a bamboo cutting board on top of a green mottled photography board.

3. Then, whisk together the Balsamic vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and salt for dressing.

Glass Bowls containing balsamic dressing, salt, and extra virgin olive oil, with an empty bowl to be used to whisk together ingredients to make a dressing for the insalata caprese salad.

4. After, top each tomato and mozzarella slice with a fresh green basil leaf.

A Dark gray plate topped with slices of juicy red heirloom tomatoes topped with buffalo mozzarella, and a vibrant green leaf of basil on each slice

5. Then,  drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing

Balsamic dressing is squeezed onto a stack of sliced red heirloom tomato, soft white buffalo mozzarella topped with a green basil leaf.

6. Last, season with salt and pepper to taste. This can be done before or after the basil leaf is added.

Grinding black pepper on the mozzarella can be done either before placing the basil, or after.

7. Make sure to serve the dish immediately to enjoy the peak freshness of the ingredients. I’m addicted to Maldon salt, so you can see below that I have sprinkled those lovely crystals which add a crunchy salty bite to this delicious, light, and healthy dish.

Insalata Caprese with a vibrant photo that captures the lush red of organic heirloom tomatoes, the pristine white of buffalo mozzarella, and the fresh green of basil leaves, all artfully drizzled with golden olive oil and rich balsamic vinegar dressing.

NOTES FOR THE PERFECT INSALATA CAPRESE:

Ingredient tips:

  • Ingredient Quality: The success of this easy Insalata Caprese hinges on the quality of its components. Choose organic heirloom tomatoes for superior flavor and texture, and buffalo mozzarella for its rich creaminess.
  • Tomato Selection: Choose ripe yet firm tomatoes to ensure they maintain their shape and provide a pleasant contrast to the soft mozzarella.

  • Cheese Tips: Buffalo mozzarella is preferred for its texture and subtle flavors. If unavailable, burrata makes a creamier, but equally delicious, alternative.  You can also choose low moisture mozzarella if you prefer a chewier cheese versus a soft melty buffalo mozz! Here’s a great article about the different types of mozzarella.  You can use any of them in this Easy Insalata Caprese!

  • Balsamic Vinegar Choices: Select a high-quality balsamic vinegar. DOP balsamic is aged and flavorful, ideal for a more pronounced vinegar presence, whereas IGP offers a lighter touch suitable for not overpowering the fresh ingredients.

  • Basil Usage: Always use fresh basil for its bright color and crisp flavor. Tear the leaves by hand off the stem to incorporate into the salad to avoid bruising and browning.

  • Seasoning: Adjust the seasoning with fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper right before serving to enhance the natural flavors of the tomatoes and cheese.this e

Serving Ideas:

  • Serving Suggestions: Insalata Caprese should be served immediately after preparation. If prepping ahead, assemble without dressing and refrigerate, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar just before serving.

  • Pairing Ideas: Complement the Caprese with crusty bread for dipping, chopped olives for a briny depth, or a drizzle of pesto for a herby, rich finish.

  • Variations: For a twist, add avocado slices for creaminess, sprinkle capers for a salty punch, or mix in some arugula instead of basil for a peppery flair.

  • Storage: Best enjoyed fresh, but if necessary, store in the refrigerator covered for a few hours to prevent the tomatoes and basil from wilting.

FAQs FOR YOUR BEST CAPRESE:

Can I substitute dried basil for fresh?

  • Fresh basil is essential for its vibrant flavor and crisp texture that dried basil cannot replicate. But, if your kids and husband are already sitting around the table with grumbling tummies, go for it with the dried basil. 

What if I can’t find buffalo mozzarella?

  • While buffalo mozzarella is preferred for its creaminess, burrata or fresh mozzarella are acceptable substitutes.  You can also use low moisture mozz which will give you a more chewy cheese texture, which some people prefer. (and are probably more accustomed to.)

How can I make this salad a substantial meal?

  • Incorporate slices of grilled chicken or flaked salmon to transform it into a heartier dish.

Is it possible to prepare this salad in advance?

  • Yes, assemble the salad without the dressing and add it just before serving to maintain the freshness and integrity of the ingredients.
Insalata Caprese with a vibrant photo that captures the lush red of organic heirloom tomatoes, the pristine white of buffalo mozzarella, and the fresh green of basil leaves, all artfully drizzled with golden olive oil and rich balsamic vinegar dressing.
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Easy Insalata Caprese: An Italian Salad

Recreate the essence of Capri with my Easy Insalata Caprese Recipe. When I lived in Rome, we often made this salad, because the weather was hot, and this recipe was quick and refreshing. This quick, elegant Italian salad combines juicy heirloom tomatoes with creamy buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, and a drizzle of rich balsamic. Perfect for a refreshing appetizer or a light meal, this classic dish brings a taste of Italy to your table in just a few minutes. Use the freshest ingredients you can find for a truly mouthwatering delicious salad. (as adapted from Eataly)
Prep Time10 minutes
Plating and Finishing5 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Dinner, Lunch, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Carole Yu
Cost: $16

Equipment

  • Serrated knife tomatoes need a serrated knife to cut through their delicate skin smoothly
  • Serving Platter large

Ingredients

  • pound Organic Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 1 pound Buffalo Mozzarella or Burrata can use other Fresh Mozzarella or Low Moisture Mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar if possible, use DOP or IGP indications
  • 6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small bunch Basil leaves removed
  • Maldon Salt to taste
  • Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Instructions

  • With an extremely sharp serrated knife, cut the Heirloom Tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices, and transfer them to the serving platter in a floral pattern.
  • Next, cut the mozzarella into ¼-inch-thick slices, and place each slice onto the center of a tomato slice.
  • Combine the 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar, and 6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a small bowl with a pinch of salt.
  • Whisk the dressing ingredients together until the salt has dissolved into the liquid.
  • Top each slice of tomato and mozzarella with a fresh green basil leaf.
  • Drizzle the balsamic dressing over each slice of tomato, mozzarella, and basil.
  • Sprinkle with Maldon salt.
  • Grind Black Pepper if desired on the dish.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

For the Perfect Insalata Caprese:

  1. Ingredient Quality: The success of Insalata Caprese hinges on the quality of its components. Opt for organic heirloom tomatoes for their superior flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture, and buffalo mozzarella for its rich creaminess. 
  2. Tomato Selection: Choose ripe yet firm Heirloom tomatoes to ensure they maintain their shape and provide a pleasant contrast to the soft mozzarella.
  3. Cheese Tips: Buffalo mozzarella is preferred for its texture and subtle flavors. If unavailable, burrata makes a creamier, but equally delicious, alternative. You can also use Low Moisture Mozzarella if you want a more chewy mozzarella experience. 
  4. Balsamic Vinegar Choices: Select a high-quality balsamic vinegar. DOP balsamic is aged and flavorful, ideal for a more pronounced vinegar presence, whereas IGP offers a lighter touch suitable for not overpowering the fresh ingredients.
  5. Basil Usage: Always use fresh basil for its bright color and crisp flavor. Tear the leaves off the stems by hand to incorporate into the salad to avoid bruising and browning.
  6. Seasoning: Adjust the seasoning with fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper if desired right before serving to enhance the natural flavors of the tomatoes and cheese.
  7. Serving Suggestions: Insalata Caprese should be served immediately after preparation. If prepping ahead, assemble without dressing and refrigerate, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar just before serving.
  8. Pairing Ideas: Complement the Caprese with crusty bread for dipping.
  9. Variations: For a twist, add avocado slices for creaminess, sprinkle capers for a salty punch, or mix in some arugula instead of basil for a peppery flair.
  10. Storage: Best enjoyed fresh, but if necessary, store in the refrigerator covered for a few hours to prevent the tomatoes and basil from wilting.

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