I love the time of summer when our heirloom tomatoes from the garden are ripe enough to eat. Because that means enjoying heirloom Caprese salads!
Italy’s Caprese salad – named for the island of Capri – is one of the simplest and most delicious things ever. The key to a great Caprese salad lies in its simplicity and freshest ingredients.
However, people often screw up Caprese salad by adding unnecessary ingredients that hide the simple, basic flavors. For example, in this country, for some reason, many chefs put balsamic on their Caprese. For shame! That would be unheard of in Italy. A real Caprese salad is made solely with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, salt, olive oil, and (optional) black pepper. That’s all.
For this recipe I don’t specify exact ingredient amounts. You can make Caprese salad using one tomato or one hundred; just adjust the ingredient amounts accordingly. And here I’m using heirloom tomatoes, but any nice ripe tomato will work.
- Fresh tomatoes, preferably heirloom
- Fresh mozzarella (preferably buffalo), sliced
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh basil leaves, chopped or julienned
1. On a cutting board, slice the tomatoes horizontally into 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick slices.
2. Season the tomato slices to taste with salt and (optional) black pepper.
3. This next step is optional, but I like to place the tomatoes on the cutting board in my kitchen sink, propped up at an angle to allow some of the tomato water to drain off before using.
4. Cover the seasoned tomatoes with slices of mozzarella.
5. Drizzle the tomatoes and mozzarella with extra-virgin olive oil.
6. Sprinkle fresh basil leaves on the tomatoes and serve.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.