This Caprese salad by Giada de Laurentiis is pretty traditional—why mess with something that works? Tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and a slightly updated dressing just screams summer.
Every summer we take a family vacation sailing around the Mediterranean for a couple of weeks, and inevitably, we visit the incredibly beautiful island of Capri, in the Bay of Napoli. The people of Capri have co-opted the classic tri-colore combination of tomato, mozzarella, and basil and called it their own—if these three ingredients define a salad, it’s called Caprese salad. Lucky for them.–Giada De Laurentiis
SHOULD CAPRESE SALAD BE SERVED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE?
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Ok, enthusiasm aside, we do feel that a Caprese salad should really be room temp. Mostly, because you don’t want those perfect tomatoes to be in the fridge, to begin with. Or even the basil, if you can help it. Let the mozzarella shake off the chill too if you can. In a simple dish like this, try to get the best ingredients that you can—there’s no hiding behind cloves of garlic or mounds of raw onion here. Make this salad in the middle of the summer, with fresh tomatoes and basil, so you can experience what an Italian summer is really like—warm.
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds assorted tomatoes (such as regular vine-ripened tomatoes, plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and yellow teardrop tomatoes)
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese drained and sliced
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves
- Whisk the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil to blend.
- Cut the regular tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices and the plum tomatoes into wedges. Cut the cherry, grape, and teardrop tomatoes in half.
- Arrange the tomatoes and cheese on a platter. Drizzle the dressing over. Sprinkle with basil and additional salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This recipe has summer written all over it. I used a variety of heirloom tomatoes, fresh from a local garden. As suggested, I used various sizes, colors, and types. I was also fortunate to get some really good mozzarella, made at a local store. This recipe shines if you use the best ingredients you can find. It makes a perfect start to a meal or a nice light lunch. I’ll be making this again while we’re getting such good tomatoes and basil straight from the garden.
This is the best way I can think of to use fresh garden tomatoes. It's a classic recipe for a reason. It's simply perfect. I can't think of a way to improve it. Our garden produced several kinds of tomatoes, including the beautiful green zebra, large red, and cherry tomatoes which looked beautiful on the white plate. Rather than just simply drizzling olive oil over these ripe and juicy tomatoes, this recipe incorporates lemon juice to create a vinaigrette. The crowning touch is, of course, fresh basil and mozzarella. We can't find buffalo mozzarella here so we used bocconcini. This version is one of the best ever. Simply put, make this. I promise you will not be sorry.
Originally published May 08, 2005