Classic Caprese Salad is a simple way to get some sunshine in your mouth.
A Classic Classic Caprese Salad
A Classic Caprese Salad is so good when made with fresh heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, with a little drizzle of fine olive oil over the top. It's so simple, it seems like it doesn't need a recipe, but I've had some clunkers so here is the classic recipe, classically done.
For the Best Caprese Salad, use a variety of Tomatoes
I love to use a variety of colors and textures in my tomatoes.
It wasn't very long ago that I only know of a few different tomato types, Roma, beef-steak, and slicing. All of them were red. It was only after going to the Kendall - Jackson Tomato Festival, held each September in Sonoma County at the KJ Wine Center, that I found out there are over 150 varieties of tomato.
Yes, that's over 150.
One year my son, then 12, ate his way around the entire table that holds pieces of each variety. I think the most I have tasted at one time was 50; it was wonderful to taste the differences in each one. Some so sweet, some slightly sour, acid levels are different as well. Amazing. Now I grow at least 12 different varieties in my own backyard each summer. Yellow, red, orange, green, black...
I love their cookbook, The Heirloom Tomato Cookbook. So many different ideas to use tomatoes.
Buying and Storing Heirloom Tomatoes
In today's world, it's pretty easy to find a variety of colors and types of heirloom tomatoes in most all grocery stores and for sure in Farmer's markets. When buying tomatoes, look for ones that are firm but not hard to the touch, with vibrant color, and no bruises or soft spots.
Did you know that you should never store tomatoes in the refrigerator? It’s too cold and makes them mealy. Always store them on the countertop, away from the sun, stem side down. And give them some breathing room, they don't like being crowded.
A Classic Caprese Salad (in the making)
Because a Classic Caprese Salad is so simple, the ingredients become super important. You want to use only ripe tomatoes, in the summer season when tomatoes are growing either in your garden, or you can get them at a Farmer's Market, or you KNOW the Heirloom tomato in your local grocery store is from a local source.
The mozzarella needs to be FRESH soft, preferably a handcrafted Buffalo mozzarella. Do not use the stuff you grate on a Pizza.
Fresh, packed in brine.
You must use fresh basil leaves. Fresh from the garden. Fresh from the store. But fresh. Large leaves work well for the presentation, but you can use smaller leaves and just use more of them. Or as I sometimes do, just give them a nice chiffonade and sprinkles some on each layer.
The olive oil should be of high quality. Also bought fresh from an olive oil producer, if possible. If not, look for a fruity one in your supermarket. This will not be the $5.99 for a large bottle of olive oil, more like the $20 - $30 ones. You don't need the +$50. one, unless you want it, and can afford it. If you don't use olive oil often, it is best to store it in the refrigerator to keep it from going rancid. Remove the bottle 10 - 15 minutes prior to using it to let it re-liquify.
Salt and pepper bring out the sweetness of the tomato as well as the fruitiness of the olive oil. And also gives that mozzarella a little bit of flavor. Mozzarella is known for its creaminess, not its flavor, so I use a bit on each layer as well as a copious twist over the top of the final salad.
That's it. That's the best way to enjoy this deliciously simple Caprese Salad made with tomato/mozzarella/basil/olive oil.
A perfect bite!
Classic Caprese Salad
- 3 large heirloom tomatoes use a variety or all the same, each sliced thickly into 4 slices
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced into 8 slices, preferably Buffalo mozzarella
- 8 large basil leaves
- 4 tablespoons fine extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ¼ cup fresh basil shredded, (optional)
- On individual plates, place one large tomato slice, top with basil and a slice of the mozzarella, repeat finishing with a tomato slice. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with additional basil if desired and serve.