How to customize your basic Salad Caprese:
I have spent the last few summers growing basil, searching for just the right tomato - preferably heirloom - and building new and interesting takes on everyone’s favorite, Salad Caprese, aka Insalate Caprese, Tomato/Mozzarella Salad, Caprese Salat, etc., depending on where you live. While not all of us are salad geeks like me, I hope this article will spark your salad geekness and make you appreciate building beautiful salads to enjoy during the best season.
Before telling you how to build the salad, I wanted to give a plug for heirloom tomatoes. My husband has often asked me why they are so special, and I find myself having to research a little every time that question is posed (because he’s not happy with the answer, “They just are.”). So, after researching it AGAIN, here is a simple explanation of why they’re so good: Heirloom tomatoes are generally varieties that have been passed down through generations because of valued characteristics and which are open pollinated (they self pollinate or are pollinated by the same variety). I personally love the flavor of heirloom tomatoes and encourage you to use them in this salad.
Back to the salad—the basic ingredients are:
- 2-3 cups torn or chopped romaine lettuce (or lettuce of choice)
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced (or 1 pkg. of miniature balls sometimes called “Tinys”)
- 1/4 cup +- fresh basil leaves, slivered
- 2-3 tomatoes, sliced
- Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to drizzle
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 marinated artichoke hearts, sliced
- 1 avocado
The beauty of Salad Caprese is that you can be as creative as you like; this is just the latest Megaversion.
To assemble, I usually chop the romaine, add it to a serving platter or shallow bowl and drizzle it with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Next, I add the sliced tomatoes (I arrange the slices in a circle if using a shallow bowl or round platter) and top them with the sliced mozzarella or the miniature mozzarella balls.
If I’m adding artichoke hearts, I slice them and place them in between some of the tomato slices. Also, if I’m adding avocado, I typically chop and place it in the center of the dish.
Next, I drizzle more olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste, add a pinch of salt over everything, and then add some freshly ground pepper. The last step is to adorn the salad with basil leaves; its super easy. First, I take the basil leaves and stack them on top of each other. Then I take out my kitchen shears, slice the leaves into small slivers and sprinkle them all over the top of my creation. And that’s it. Simple, yet beautiful and delicious. It’s such a wonderful summertime meal addition.
I hope you’ll give this version a try and let me know what you think. I’d love to see pictures of your creations!