This is the perfect way to use those beautiful tomatoes growing in your garden! With only a few fresh ingredients, you have a light, healthy, and delicious salad. Don’t let the summer slip away without making this amazing Caprese salad!
Caprese salad is my favorite way to use our garden tomatoes in the summer. Not only is it easy to put together, but it’s also healthy and amazingly delicious!
A great Caprese salad starts with great ingredients. This recipe is meant for summertime when tomatoes are at their juiciest, sweetest, and most flavorful. Of course, you can make this any time of the year, but it really is best with fresh summertime tomatoes! Don’t worry if you don’t grow your own tomatoes, just be selective in the tomatoes you buy from the store or farmers market. Avoid tomatoes with blemishes or dark spots. The tomato should have a good weight for its size. A heavy tomato indicates juiciness. It should also be firm yet soft enough to give in to any real pressure. And lastly, the tomato should be very aromatic when you smell it near where the stem was attached.
Besides the freshest and tastiest tomatoes, you’ll need only four other ingredients. Because there are so few ingredients, the quality of each is that much more important.
- Mozzarella: The mozzarella should be fresh, soft, and packed in water. When you cut the mozzarella, you want to use a very sharp knife. Because the mozzarella is soft, a dull knife will squish the mozzarella instead of cutting it.
- Basil: Only fresh leaves will do! I like to use large, whole leaves. If the leaves are smaller, you can use more than one leaf for each tomato.
- Sea Salt: I keep sea salt on hand, and it’s my preferred salt in many dishes. I like sea salt for its coarse and crunchy texture. It also has a stronger salt taste.
- Fresh ground pepper: When pepper is freshly ground, it’s significantly more flavorful than pre-ground pepper. When you grind pepper immediately before eating, the ground pepper has significantly less time to react with the oxygen, which allows it to maintain the flavor components that make it peppery. So if you don’t own a pepper grinder, I strongly recommend that you get one; you won’t regret it!
I’m giving the balsamic glaze its own heading…it’s that important! The glaze really brings this dish together and gives it that “WOW” factor. With the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, balsamic glaze adds a delicious, deep rich color and intense flavor to this dish.
You can certainly buy balsamic glazes at the grocery store; I have, and they’re not bad. But nothing beats homemade. And it only takes two ingredients and fifteen minutes to make.
Combine the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar in a small saucepan, and bring to a gentle boil. Then turn the heat down to medium or medium-low, maintaining a constant simmer. Stir the glaze occasionally and continue cooking until it has thickened and coats the back of a spoon (about 10 to 15 minutes). If the glaze is not thickening up, turn the heat up slightly. The finished glaze should have the consistency of warm honey. Keep in mind it will thicken some as it cools.
One word of warning…Turn on your stove’s exhaust fan! Cooking balsamic vinegar produces a very strong vinegar smell that will permeate your whole house. Turning on the fan will help some.
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, about ¼-inch thick slices
- 2 medium tomatoes, about ¼-inch thick slices
- basil leaves
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- balsamic glaze, **You can find balsamic glaze in the grocery store, or you can make it yourself. I've included instructions on how to make homemade balsamic glaze below.
Homemade Balsamic Glaze: (optional)
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- Arrange the sliced mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and basil leaves in an alternating pattern on a plate (a slice of mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaf, repeat).
- Lightly sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- Drizzle everything with the balsamic glaze with back-and-forth motions.
Homemade balsamic glaze: (optional)
- Heat balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small pot or saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to medium or medium-low heat, and maintain a constant simmer. Stir occasionally until the vinegar thickens and is reduced by about half (about 10 to 15 minutes). It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The glaze should have the consistency of warm honey. (Be sure to turn on the stove fan, the smell of the cooking vinegar is strong).
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before serving (about 15 minutes). The glaze will thicken some as it cools.
- Store leftover glaze in the refrigerator and use it within two months.