Caprese salad, a classic Italian combination of fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil seems like a no brainer salad, right? That’s true, mostly, especially this time of year when farmers’ markets are filled with ripe, sun-kissed tomatoes. A little thought, though, and you can up your caprese game big time. I discovered a few new-to-me tricks this summer that elevate it from a humble combination to a star-worthy salad.
First off, let’s talk about the basil. I used to cut larger leaves into ribbons. This year I decided to swap in smaller ones. They have a sweeter flavor, and less peppery bite than more mature leaves. You can even use some of the flowers that bud when your plant is telling you it’s time for a trim—they make for a beautiful garnish.
While thick, juicy slices of beefsteak tomatoes are wonderful, quartered grape tomatoes, or simply chopping up those beefsteaks is a fun approach. The same goes for your mozzarella—diced it, or use smaller bocconcini, and cut them into halves or quarters. Your caprese now becomes a chopped salad, of sorts, providing a perfect ratio of tomato, cheese, and basil with every bite. A sprinkling of good quality salt, like fleur de sel or Maldon salt flakes, and little bit of our Red Wine Vinaigrette pulls it all together for an easy, yet sophisticated, salad.