This recipe for Caprese salad is about to become your favorite way to eat on warm summer nights. We are combining some great flavors like fresh tomatoes, whole mozzarella, sweet, fresh basil, and a tangy balsamic glaze to create a salad that is simple yet bursting with flavor.
Or, as we like to say, it's a WHOLE LOTTA YUM! Whether you want to make it with slices or mini cheese balls and small tomatoes, we'll show you how!
What is Caprese Salad?
Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad with layers of fresh mozzarella, tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, oil, and vinegar. Caprese salad originated on the island of Capri. This salad makes a fantastic summer salad when you can use fresh tomatoes from the garden or produce stand.
Tomato Mozzarella Caprese
A tomato mozzarella Caprese salad is one of the best ways to enjoy your summer garden. Light and refreshing, the Caprese salad is perfect to go along with most any meal or be a great vegetarian dinner. This salad whips up in just a few minutes and is perfect for those nights when running the stove, even for just a few moments, is simply too much to ask for.
This recipe for Caprese salad requires just a few basic ingredients, had a bold flavor, yet dresses up your main course. In our home, we love serving it alongside pretty much anything that can be cooked on the grill, or pairing it with some chicken tenders, crusty bread, and olives.
Caprese salad is low-carb, gluten-free, vegetarian, and keto. You can also create a paleo or vegan version by swapping the mozzarella for your favorite plant-based cheese substitute.
Serve your Caprese salad with balsamic glaze with these pan-fried chicken tenderloins, your favorite crusty bread, olives, and some cauliflower man n cheese for a complete meal that is balanced, tasty, and completely yummy!
Why This Recipe Works
- Fresh ingredients combine to create a salad that is bursting with freshness and flavor.
- Easy to adapt based on the number of servings you need.
- Tomato, mozzarella, and basil are classic ingredients that just simply work!
- The whole recipe needs just 5 ingredients!
Roma tomatoes are a meaty tomato that has a sweet taste to them. Fresh mozzarella is soft and full of milky texture. Basil helps to sweeten the salad up. And topped with both oil and balsamic glaze, your keto Caprese salad comes together both beautiful to look at and ripe with flavors that blend and complement one another perfectly.
- Roma tomatoes - smaller round tomatoes on a vine will also work. The key is to cut tomatoes the same size as the mozzarella. You can also use cherry tomatoes if you use fresh mozzarella balls instead of slices.
- Fresh Mozzarella - comes in a container with liquid to keep it moist, often in a log shape, large ball, or in small bite-sized balls.
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic glaze- a thicker syrup-like balsamic sauce, balsamic vinegar can also be substituted.
- Fresh basil leaves - substituting dried basil is not recommended, fresh is best!
- Salt and pepper - we always use fine sea salt or pink Himalayan salt and ground black pepper.
- Serving platter or plate
- Sharp knife
- Measuring spoons
The recipe steps here call for creating one large salad, however, you could easily adapt the method to create several smaller salads for each person at your table. The beauty of this recipe is in the layering, so it is worth taking a few minutes to create the circular pattern you see below.
This recipe for Caprese salad comes together in just a few quick steps!
Slice tomatoes and cheese about ½" thick. Alternating the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, on a round plate or platter lay them in a circular pattern, overlapping slightly.
Sprinkle with small fresh basil leaves, or cut larger basil pieces into strips and sprinkle them over the mozzarella and tomato salad.
***Note: Depending on how much basil I have on hand (or in the garden), I'll at times add as much as 1 basil piece to alternate after the cheese and tomato. So it'll go tomato, cheese, basil leaf, tomato, cheese slice, basil leaf, etc. However, if you are short on time, or not a huge fan of that much basil flavor, sprinkling the basil on top is a great option that creates an enticing visual while serving.
Drizzle the top with balsamic glaze and olive oil to taste. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Serve immediately or store in the fridge covered.
- For best results, try to get tomatoes that are the same size as your mozzarella.
- Fresh mozzarella is truly worth the time for the flavor and consistency. Unlike pre-shredded cheese, which is coated with drying agents to keep the cheese from sticking, fresh, whole mozzarella is moist and flavorful.
- Balsamic oil can be used in place of the balsamic glaze.
- Try using flavored oils in place of extra virgin.
- You can create a bowl-friendly version using cherry tomatoes and mini fresh mozzarella balls.
Adapting to Diet Restrictions
As healthy as your keto Caprese salad already is, there are some adaptions to be made for specific eating lifestyles.
Vegan- To make this salad vegan-friendly, use your favorite plant-based cheese instead of mozzarella.
Paleo- Paleo eaters may also prefer to use a plant-based cheese in place of the mozzarella as cheese is in the grey area for this lifestyle.
Low carb- As-is, your Caprese salad recipe is low-carb, however, we simply want to let you know that balsamic glaze does have has a small amount of sugar in it. Be sure to check your labels before you buy or use balsamic vinegar to keep the carb count as low as possible.
Can you substitute regular mozzarella instead of fresh mozzarella?
Technically yes, you can use regular mozzarella instead of fresh, but your cheese will not have the rich flavor of soft texture that fresh mozzarella has. For this recipe, fresh mozzarella is highly recommended.
What to serve with Caprese salad?
Caprese salad is best served alongside some other classic Italian flavors such as:
- Instant pot fettuccine
- Zoodles with carbonara sauce or keto alfredo sauce
- Meat and cheese platter
- Chicken parmesan
- Crusty bread
- Crusty bread topped with mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and oil. Bake or broil for 3-5 minutes.
Is Caprese salad keto?
With all things keto, the key is moderation. The ingredients for Caprese salad are all naturally low carb, and even with the balsamic glaze you can stay within the parameters of a strict keto diet. If you are concerned about the glaze, feel free to use a dash of balsamic vinegar in its place.
More Summer Salad Recipes
- Antipasto Salad
- Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
- Mexican Street Corn Salad
- Roasted Beet Salad with Candied Pecans
- German Mustard Potato Salad
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