Want a simple and delicious side dish for your summer meals that just happens to look amazing too? Don’t look any further than this post where I share the best ingredients and my simple method for making Caprese!
Known in Italy as Insalata Caprese and made with soft mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and tomatoes in season, Caprese is the perfect summer treat! The original is served with “mozzarella di bufala” (buffalo mozzarella) made with Mediterranean buffalo milk from the Campania region primarily in the towns of Caserta and Salerno. And, apparently it’s not only the best mozzarella in existence, but also softer, creamier and more flavorful than cow’s milk mozzarella. I say, bring it on! Caprese is typically drizzled with a good extra virgin olive oil which is known to be flavorful on its own. Somewhere along the line, balsamic vinegar also became a popular addition to the dish.
If you want to enjoy a little Italian flare in your life, eat this simple Caprese while dreaming of warm summer days on the Amalfi coast in towns like Naples, Sorrento, Capri, Positano and Amalfi!
Bill took these beautiful pictures of that very coastline on a trip we took to Italy back in 2013…one of the best vacations ever! The coast, the seafood, the pasta, the pizza, the salads, the gelato, the shops, the winding roads, the hillside homes, the walks, the food (did I mention that before?)…there are not words to describe the pure joy of that experience!
What’s at the root of this food? Heart-healthy tomatoes, vitamin rich basil, creamy mozzarella, antioxidant packed extra virgin olive oil and cholesterol reducing balsamic vinegar. Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than that!
- 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes
- 12 slices of creamy mozzarella
- 12 large basil leaves
- extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- ground pepper
- sea salt
Wash and slice the tomatoes (I like them rather thick). Slice the mozzarella unless it’s pre-sliced. Trim and wash the basil leaves. On a round, oblong or square platter, place a piece of tomato, then a piece of mozzarella and a basil leaf on top. Repeat, laying the next one slightly covering the first and so forth.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar; add sea salt and ground pepper. Fresh, delicious and nutritious!
- I found a soft mozzarella cheese by BelGioioso which comes pre-sliced, in a two-pack at Costco for half the grocery store price. It may not be the original, but works well in this dish!
- I called around and found out that Tony Caputo’s Market and Harmon’s Grocery stores both carry Buffalo Mozarella here in Utah. So, I bought some from Tony Caputo’s Market which is actually imported from the Campania region in Italy! I made a batch of Caprese with this cheese and it was a-mazing! Just like I read, the cheese was softer, creamier and more flavorful! Packed in water, it is rather wet so just pat it dry before putting this dish together. At $9.99 for 8 ounces, it may be better for special occasions but, it’s completely authentic so give it a whirl!
- I get my extra virgin olive oil at Trader Joes. Tony Caputo’s carries some really good brands.
- I’ve been getting my balsamic vinegar from Tony Caputo’s long before we moved up here 9 years ago. I would grab a bottle of their “Antica Italia” brand while on vacation and pack it home to California – it’s that good! In fact, this is the brand they use on all of their deli salads too! Reasonably priced, the 32 ounce bottle pictured below is around $12.99.