Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes (Easy!)

Caprese Salad Close Up.

This traditional Italian salad is a great meal on its own if you are looking for a light lunch or breakfast on a hot summer day. You can also serve Caprese as an appetizer, a side dish, or a bite-size snack if you put it on skewers!

Why You Will Love This Recipe

Super easy to make. All you need to do is chop fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, drizzle it with some olive oil or balsamic reduction and you are good to go!

Caprese salad is a complete meal on its own. If you need a light meal, you can just grab some fresh bread along with the salad and

Budget-friendly. All you need is three simple ingredients that are available at every grocery store and are not expensive. In fact, you can grow basil and tomatoes in your backyard if you want to!

What Ingredients are In a Caprese Salad?

Ingredients for Caprese Salad
It is best to chop the ingredients right before using them as it will ensure the best color, texture, and flavor.

Traditionally it is mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, and a drizzling of olive oil. Balsamic vinegar is not a part of the original Caprese salad and, to be honest, it is overpowering in this salad’s gentle flavor profile.

Why is It Called Caprese?

Caprese comes from the name Capri, which is an Italian Island where the dish originated from. Caprese simply means “Capri style”! More history of the salad here!

What Goes Well with a Caprese Salad?

You can eat the salad with a piece of crunchy fresh bread if you want a light meal on a hot summer day but if you are looking for something more filling then there are plenty of options for you! You can serve Caprese salad along pasta with pesto sauce or bolognese sauce, Parmesan risotto, you can add some grilled chicken, pork, or beef to the plate, or serve Caprese as an appetizer before any other main course.

In fact, you can serve Caprese with pretty much anything you like, just follow your intuition when it comes to what flavors pair up with each other. If I had to guess I would say that when it comes to food there are as many preferences as there are people!

Can You Eat Basil Raw?

You can! Raw basil tastes great, just make sure to wash it if you are taking it straight from the plant. Basil stems are edible as well but they aren’t as pleasant to chew on raw. You can add stems to soups and sauces if you chop them well!

How to Cut Basil for a Caprese Salad?

You may chop basil for the salad but you can also leave it as is! If you do decide to chop the leaves then you want to do it right before using them as they will start browning if you leave them to sit on the counter after cutting.

Can Caprese Salad Be Made Ahead?

It is best to make Caprese salad right before serving as basil loses its shape and beauty when you leave it to sit in the refrigerator. However, you can make this salad ahead if you don’t mind your basil looking slightly wrinkly and darker (avoid cutting basil if you are making the salad ahead of time). With cherry tomatoes you can leave them in the salad without cutting so that they don’t lose its shape. The salad will last up to 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

Cherry Tomatoes in This Recipe

Use fresh and ripe cherry tomatoes for best flavors! If you are making this recipe ahead of time, just keep your cherry tomatoes whole so that they don’t get soggy and old-looking. The beauty of cherry tomatoes is that they are bite size anyway, so you don’t really need to chop them if you don’t want to!

Recipe Variations

– Add balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction to the finished dish;

– Add avocado or replace mozzarella with it for vegan version;

– Place the salad in between fresh pieces of bread for a Caprese sandwich;

– Put tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella onto skewers for bite-size salad for a party.

How to Make Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes

Step 1

Chop up the tomatoes (optional), mozzarella, and basil (optional).

Cherry tomatoes and mozzarella chopped up on a cutting board
You don’t have to chop the cherry tomatoes if you have really small ones.

Step 2

Place the ingredients onto a plate in layers (mozzarella, tomato, basil) or put them into a bowl and toss with some salt, pepper (optional), and olive oil or balsamic reduction.

Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes on a plate
You can layer tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil on a flat plate or you can toss the ingredients in a bowl to save time.
Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Caprese Salad close up

Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes (Easy!)

Delicious and light salad that can serve as an appetizer, a side dish, or even a meal on its own if you are looking for a light lunch!
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 person
Calories 120 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 mozzarella ball
  • 5-10 cherry tomatoes depending on their size
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil for drizzling or balsamic reduction
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Chop up the tomatoes (optional), mozzarella, and basil (optional).
  • Place the ingredients onto a plate in layers (mozzarella, tomato, basil) or put them into a bowl and toss with some salt, pepper (optional), and olive oil or balsamic reduction.

Notes

If you want to make this recipe ahead then it is best to avoid cutting basil and cherry tomatoes. In that case, it is easier to just toss the ingredients in a bowl instead of layering them onto a flat plate. 
Balsamic vinegar or reduction is not originally a part of the dish and overpowers the ingredients’ natural flavors. However, it is popular to add balsamic reduction to this salad, so you can try it and see if you like it!
Keyword Caprese Salad, Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad, Easy Caprese Salad

What’s Next?

Have you made this Caprese salad recipe? Please, share your experience and questions in the comment section below!

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