This scrumptious Caprese Salad Recipe takes the traditional Italian salad and adds a unique twist with a garlic balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
One of my favorite takeaways from my time exploring Italy was the food. And there is, perhaps, no food more universally loved by those living in coastal Italy than the Caprese Salad.
This fresh, colorful, and flavor-filled Italian salad combines sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and aromatic basil and contrasts it with an incredible garlic balsamic dressing. While it’s a summer staple, this Caprese Salad recipe can be enjoyed all year round.
Caprese salad is easy to make, healthy, and absolutely delicious.
Is Caprese Salad Good For You?
Caprese Salad is healthy and delicious as either a side dish or a main. Personally, I love it when paired with classic Italian spaghetti and some homemade garlic bread.
The cheese packs a protein punch, acting as a good source of energy. The light, olive-oil-based garlic balsamic dressing is healthy and nutritious. This Caprese Salad recipe is loaded with vitamins from all tasty vegetables, including romaine lettuce and cherry tomatoes.
What Do You Eat Caprese Salad With?
Caprese Salad is one of the most versatile salads that you can eat. This classic Italian salad can be paired with countless dishes. But some of my favorites include:
- Classic Italian spaghetti and meatballs
- Avocado with toast
- Chicken sandwich – Caprese Salad can be served either on the side or right on top of the sandwich.
- Baked into a quiche
- All by itself – This amazing salad can also be enjoyed all on its own.
The Trick To Making The Best Caprese Salad
Most Caprese Salad recipes are effortless. An easy Caprese Salad recipe can taste great, but there is a trick. And that is in the garlic balsamic dressing that you drizzle on top.
Caprese Salad ingredients are made up of three basic ingredients. But the salad can be dressed up with a few extras here and there to spice up the dish. First, start out with these main ingredients of the classic Caprese Salad:
- Fresh mozzarella cheese. You don’t want to skimp out and use cheap mozzarella cheese for a good Caprese Salad recipe. It’s too important to the dish. You want a Bocconcini (mozzarella balls) as they are softer and creamier than your typical block-style mozzarella. If you want to make a truly traditional Caprese Salad, you’ll want to use Buffalo Mozzarella.
- Fresh and ripe tomatoes. You can get creative with the tomatoes that you use when making Caprese Salad. Personally, I like using sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes. Classic Caprese Salads are made with Heirloom tomatoes. However, I love to mix it up and sometimes even use green tomatoes.
- Fresh Basil. Fresh basil is so important to a good Caprese Salad recipe. You can never substitute dried basil; it simply won’t come close. Personally, I always keep a kitchen herb garden with fresh basil, thyme, and parsley at the ready.
A popular way to fill out this Italian salad recipe is to add a few greens. This also helps to dress up the salad and add a bit of color. I like to use spinach or butterhead lettuce for a little flash.
So you have your three main Caprese Salad ingredients. But there is one more thing that you’ll need to bring it all together. And that is the garlic balsamic salad dressing.
Garlic Balsamic Dressing
The garlic balsamic salad dressing is the perfect pairing to a Caprese Salad. And just like the salad ingredients themselves, the ingredients for a garlic balsamic vinaigrette are simple. You’ll need balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, ground black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh garlic.
How To Make Caprese Salad
Just like the ingredients, making a Caprese Salad is simple and easy. Just follow these simple instructions.
- On a large plate, lay your leafy greens as a base.
- Place your mozzarella, tomato, and basil in an alternating pattern in lines or a spiral to cover the plate. Spread them out evenly to fill the plate.
How To Make The Garlic Balsamic Dressing
The garlic balsamic dressing is my special twist to the classic Caprese salad. For me, this extra flavor burst takes the salad to an entirely new level.
To make the garlic balsamic dressing, measure the garlic, dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and pepper using the recipe below. Add them to a sealed jar and shake them to combine. Drizzle them over the salad immediately for the best result.
Now It’s Time To Make This Amazing Caprese Salad Recipe Yourself!
- 1 bunch of leafy greens (optional - I prefer spinach or butterhead lettuce)
- 3 ripe heirloom tomatoes or 1 container of cherry tomatoes (thickly sliced)
- 12 oz fresh bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella (thickly sliced)
- 1 large bunch of fresh basil
Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar
- 4 tsp dijon mustard
- 7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of fresh garlic (pressed or thinly minced)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place your leafy greens onto a large serving platter.
- On the bed of leaves assemble the salad by layering the cut tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, and basil in an alternating pattern. Try to tuck the whole basil leaf in between the tomato and mozzarella cheese slices.
- Add all of the garlic balsamic vinaigrette ingredients into a jar with a sealed lid.
- Shake the mixture vigorously and drizzle over the salad.
- Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 539Total Fat: 49gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 147mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 5g