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The perfect summer salad is this beautiful and delicious twist on insalata caprese. Keeping all the flavors of your traditional caprese salad just made cute and mini with colorful cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, fresh basil leaves, and seasoned with a little salt and flavorful olive oil. This cherry tomato caprese salad is refreshing, light, and perfect for your next holiday party, backyard barbecue, or anytime snack.
Our first spring and summer in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains has been so amazing. We live on the edge of a really small town, and every Sunday we go to the farmer’s market at town hall before church, and this isn't like a market where it's like people who are miles away and we don't actually know.
We have a ton of beautiful pastures, animal sanctuaries, and small farms surrounding us so they are literally the farmers we see down a strip of road about a mile down and onward.
Considering we used to live in South Florida where the gator encounters and little lizards everywhere was our version of nature on a daily basis, this is still blowing my mind.
All that to say, I found some absolutely stunning and super sweet ripe cherry tomatoes this past weekend and I knew they needed to be in a delicious caprese salad. It's one of my favorite salad recipes made with fresh ingredients, creamy mozzarella... and isn't it just so pretty?
Use It literally takes me less than ten minutes to put together and only needs 5 ingredients if you count salt.
And we're counting salt, right? Season your food, people!
What is a caprese salad?
Caprese salad or insalata caprese is a delicious and simple Italian salad made of fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, sweet basil leaves, and extra virgin olive oil with a good sprinkle of salt. It's usually eaten as an appetizer, not a side dish, buuuuuuut I'm not judging if this ends up as a side at your next barbecue.
Caprese comes from the Campania region, named after the island of Capri, created by a patriotic bricklayer after World War I, creating a dish inspired by the Italian flag. But it didn't skyrocket into international popularity until the 1950's when Egyptian king, King Farouk, was served caprese salad and raved about it.
The classic caprese salad is just one of the many delicious ways to enjoy caprese, there's also the caprese sandwich, pizza, pasta and even pasta salad.
What are cherry tomatoes?
Cherry tomatoes are a small variety of tomato that grow to be about the size of a cherry, with a thin, snappy skin and juicy flesh. They have a slightly more concentrated tomato flavor, but taste generally like other sweet tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes. You'll want a good variety of tomatoes here, for different flavors, textures, and color. I found gorgeous heirloom cherry tomatoes, golden cherry tomatoes, and some colorful grape tomatoes as well for variety. Grape tomatoes have a more meaty flesh.
Small mozzarella balls. Their Italian name is perlini, 'little pearls', and they're perfect for this cherry tomato caprese salad recipe. They're pretty easy to find at the grocery store where you find the other fresh cheeses. They'll be little fresh mozzarella balls in water.
Fresh basil. The green of the Italian flag! Basil is an impactful herb: fresh and bright, peppery. You want the Genovese or Sweet type of basil, and make sure it's fresh-fresh with strong green leaves. No one wants sad, floppy basil.
Good quality extra-virgin olive oil. I know many people dress it in a balsamic glaze or just regular balsamic vinegar, but I love some fruity extra virgin olive oil. It's a personal preference, a drizzle of olive oil is not only classic but a really flavorful one takes it from simple salad to delicious salad.
Sea salt and black pepper. Sprinkle a little of that good flaky salt and black pepper for flavor.
How to Make a Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad
Making this salad is incredibly simple. There's no cooking, no need to mix up any salad dressings...if you've got kiddos who love fresh tomatoes, they can lend a hand!
Wash the cherry tomatoes under cool water especially if they're your garden's summer tomatoes. Get them nice and clean.
Slice about half of them, if you want to keep some whole. Put them into a pretty serving bowl.
Add the small mozzarella balls and tear fresh basil leaves into the bowl.
Get that good drizzle of olive oil going and sprinkle some nice flaky salt on top.
Give it all a toss and enjoy this cool and refreshing dish with all the warm weather!
Tips for the Best Caprese Salad
Room temperature mozzarella only! It has the best flavor and texture, according to my friend's nonna. After making the salad, let it rest for up to 30 minutes before serving to shake the fridge chill off.
Fresh mozzarella only. Buffalo mozzarella has the best flavor, but it can be hard to find in some places so use the best fresh mozz you can.
Never use canned tomatoes. Caprese must have fresh, ripe tomatoes!
Fresh red onion for some crunch and spice.
Parm instead of mozzarella. I'm only relaying the message, some people really enjoy caprese with shards of parmigiano reggiano instead of creamy mozz.
Adding a little oregano for flavor. Don't adda ton, it can overpower the other ingredients. I like adding it, but it is optional.
Other Summer Recipes
- Limoncello Spritz Cocktail
- Strawberry Custard Tart
- Lobster Pasta with Garlic Butter Sauce
- Easy Southern Bourbon Peach Cobbler
Tools I Used in this Recipe
Boos Cutting Board to slice the tomatoes on.
Chef Knife to slice the tomatoes with.
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- 4 cups ripe cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
- 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella pearls
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, gently torn by hand
- 3 tablespoon good extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano, optional
- Place the halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and torn fresh basil leaves into a large serving bowl.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the ingredients, sprinkle the salt over evenly, and add the oregano if using. Toss it all together to coat the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil in the salt and olive oil.
- For the best flavor, let rest for 15-30 minutes so the flavors can mingle and the ingredients can warm up slightly.
- Serve as an appetizer or snack.
Tips for the Best Caprese Salad
- Room temperature mozzarella only! It has the best flavor and texture, according to my friend's nonna. After making the salad, let it rest for up to 30 minutes before serving to shake the fridge chill off.
- Fresh mozzarella only. Buffalo mozzarella has the best flavor, but it can be hard to find in some places so use the best fresh mozz you can.
- Never use canned tomatoes. Caprese must have fresh, ripe tomatoes!
- Fresh red onion for some crunch and spice.
- Parm instead of mozzarella. I'm only relaying the message, some people really enjoy caprese with shards of parmigiano reggiano instead of creamy mozz.
- Adding a little oregano for flavor. Don't add a ton, it can overpower the other ingredients. I like adding it, but it is optional.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 144Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 260mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 7g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.