Ensalada Caprese Anyone?

by Karen Hand

The Italian salad known as Caprese is one of my most favorite summer salads.  It is quite simple to make and in fact can easily be prepared in less than five minutes.  The secret to great tasting Caprese is using the freshest of ingredients.  That means, fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, and most definitely fresh mozzarella.

First, let’s start with the basil.  Stack your leaves together lengthwise like so, biggest to smallest, and about 5-7 depending on size should do the trick.

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Next, roll the leaves tightly together, again lengthwise.

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Now you cut through the tightly rolled basil with a knife and in doing so, you are creating a chiffonade or ribbon effect.

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Just set your basil aside for now as we’ll use it in a bit.

Now we’re onto the tomatoes.  I chose Romas for my Caprese today.  I just cut them into thin slices, without being too thin.

For the fresh mozzarella, any brand will do.  It can also be packed with or without water.  Bel Gioioso is the brand I tend to turn to most.  After all, there’s a picture of Ensalada Caprese on the front of their package.  Bel Gioioso also sells their fresh mozzarella as seen here in ball form, but also in a pre-sliced package as well.  Whatever mozzarella you choose to make your Caprese with, please just make sure it is labeled FRESH or the salad just won’t be right.

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I now took my fresh mozzarella and cut it into slices about the same thickness as my tomatoes.  Now the beauty begins.  Grab a plate and for this salad it’s worth bringing out “the good china.”  Okay, maybe not china, but use a setting you may not use all the time.  This salad is not only extremely tasty, but it is very aesthetically pleasing to the eye too.

I typically start with a tomato, then add a slice of mozzarella, the another tomato and so on until the plate is covered.  For tonight’s Caprese since I decided to chiffonade the basil, this is how setting up the salad will work best.  Alternatively, you can use the whole leaf of basil and create a Caprese of tomato, mozzarella, basil and then again, tomato, mozzarella, basil and so on.

For all your efforts, this is your reward…

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You can season with salt and pepper to taste, if you like.  I always like to add a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to marry the flavors.  You can also add a little balsamic vinegar if you like.  There are variations.*  Above is mine.  I hope you will take nature’s gifts and enjoy one of Italy’s best salads – Caprese.  Buon appetito!

*Here are some other ways to assemble Caprese.  The assembly may be different, but the three main ingredients always remain the same.

With balsamic vinegar
As individual appetizers
With full-leaf basil

I did not receive any compensation whatsoever from Bel Gioioso for writing this post.  I wrote this of my own wishing to share my love of Ensalada Caprese with you.  Enjoy!

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41 comments

Becky July 9, 2013 - 9:34 pm
You are making me drool!!! I can't wait to try this on the weekend!! :)
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Jeni Mitchell July 10, 2013 - 10:11 am
Doesn't it just look scrumptious Becky? It's nice to see your comments here. After all, it is you whom I have to thank for the glorious basil!!! I'm sure you'll enjoy when you make this. Please let us know what you think.
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veronica lee July 10, 2013 - 3:57 am
Oooo! I love salads and this looks really scrummy!
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Jeni Mitchell July 10, 2013 - 10:09 am
Veronica, Caprese really does taste as good as it looks. I highly recommend making it. It is so simple to make and yet looks and tastes like you spent hours preparing it. I cannot stress enough though the importance of using fresh ingredients, especially fresh mozzarella. Play around too with the tomatoes you use even. When Heirlooms come into season or yellow or green tomatoes...it simply makes an Ensalada Caprese that much more pleasing to the eye and of course the palate. Enjoy! Please share with us what you make.
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veronica lee July 10, 2013 - 10:49 am
I usually serve my salads Japanese style - I use a store-bought sesame dressing!
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Maribel Raymundo July 10, 2013 - 10:07 am
I never tried a caprese salad before, but i've seen one on tv. I love mozzarella so it must be good
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Jeni Mitchell July 10, 2013 - 10:49 am
Oh Maribel, you must try it. I would gladly make this for you. If only I could send it to you virtually. It really is so simple to make and yet tastes so so yummy. If you like mozzarella, just wait until you have this Caprese salad. Fresh mozzarella has a taste all unto itself. It's creamy and has a richer taste. Please let us know what you think of it when you try it.
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Becky Schollian July 10, 2013 - 11:03 am
Oh Boy!! YUM...We are salad fanatics here at my house. Salad goes with every meal & sandwiches. Definitely trying this one!! I'll let you know what the family thinks.
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Jeni Mitchell July 10, 2013 - 11:03 am
I'm sure you'll love it Becky. Can't wait to hear your thoughts.
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Maria Iemma July 10, 2013 - 11:11 am
One of my favorite salads. It is easy, tasty and so very beautiful. I make it often.
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benjamin ralte July 10, 2013 - 11:23 am
must try it
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Jeni Mitchell July 13, 2013 - 2:10 pm
Benjamin, this is a great salad. It is so simple to make and yet again, looks like you spent hours on it. Please let us know what you think.
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lisa July 10, 2013 - 12:57 pm
It looks good. Nice, cool and colorful. I'd like to try it. Thanks.
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Zan C July 11, 2013 - 3:14 pm
Looking at the pictures of this salad cools me off. It is so hot here. This is a perfect meal on a hot day.
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Jeni Mitchell July 13, 2013 - 2:17 pm
I will concur with that. Please let us know if you make it Zan. I'm sure you'd enjoy it.
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Donna Martin July 13, 2013 - 12:06 am
would love to try this..this is so perfect for diet meal
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Jeni Mitchell July 13, 2013 - 1:57 pm
Donna this really is a light salad. You can make it even a little lighter by looking for light fresh mozzarella. You get protein from the mozzarella and tomatoes of course are a veggie (actually a fruit), so yes, this is a great salad when you're looking for something light. Enjoy!
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Gail Williams July 13, 2013 - 7:47 pm
My daughter gave me fresh basil from her garden and I bought the other ingredients, now to make the SALAD!!! Yum.
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Jeni Mitchell July 13, 2013 - 8:57 pm
Delicious Gail. Please let us know what you think of it. I know I already have bought more tomatoes and mozzarella to make another Caprese in the next couple of days.
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Wanda Tracey July 17, 2013 - 10:23 pm
I love the simplicity and nutritiousness of this awesome salad.I am so happy that you shared with us.
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Jayne July 22, 2013 - 4:45 am
I somehow never made this. I must get down on it cos I love tomatoes like I love life. And mozzarella. Sigh.
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Jeni Mitchell July 23, 2013 - 3:02 pm
It is so delicious Jayne and so simple and easy to make. Please let us know what you think of it.
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md kennedy July 28, 2013 - 11:56 am
Beautiful salad! I am making a veggie lasagna for dinner tonight and was struggling with what to serve with it - don't want a boring green salad. This is perfect - thanks!
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Jeni Mitchell July 29, 2013 - 4:08 pm
Md...this will go perfect with veggie lasagna. Yum! I know I'd come over for dinner. ;)
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D Johnson July 31, 2013 - 4:18 pm
I had never heard of Caprese before which is sad because I love all the ingredients and Italian food! This would make a nice lunch salad on a hot summer day. Oh....thanks for showing how to roll the basil up and cut it, I never would have done that :)
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Jeni Mitchell July 31, 2013 - 7:22 pm
You're so welcome D. This is really one of my most favorite salads. There are so many different ways to serve it too. For instance, if you would like to have Caprese, but are just serving one, take some crusty bread like an Italian or French and toast it. Then, make your Caprese on a couple of slices. It's perfect that way and just the right amount for one. Of course if you're serving more, then using the presentation as I showed is definitely more appropriate. You can also chop everything and mix it all together. As long as you have the three base ingredients, that is what is most important. Presentation does count though too. Please let us know what you make it. Sounds like you'll love it!
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D Johnson August 10, 2013 - 1:36 am
Thanks for the reply Jeni. I did make this last Saturday. I used your method and it tasted fantastic and everyone loved it!!! I think I need a little more practice to make it look as beautiful as yours though. I like the idea of making it on a slice of crusty bread too. This is definitely one of the best recipes I have gotten from a blog EVER! Thanks for sharing this :)
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Jeni Mitchell August 11, 2013 - 8:05 pm
Thank you D. So glad to hear you tried Caprese and loved it. The good news with practicing the presentation is that you get to eat it too. :) It's a win-win! As I noted in this post, there is not just one way to make this salad. It really is up to you on how you plate it. The most important thing is to have the three main ingredients and once again, as I have probably over-stressed, to have the freshest of mozzarella. As long as you have the cheese, basil, and tomatoes, you are good to go. How you arrange the ingredients is up to you. Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed it so much, as did your family!
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M.Clark August 5, 2013 - 9:17 pm
This looks delicious!! Thanks for showing us how to make this, I can't wait to give it a try.
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md kennedy August 6, 2013 - 7:41 am
Great idea! I have a basil plant on my balcony that I need to use up before I go away for a while, so I will put it out of its misery with this recipe. Thanks!
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Jeni Mitchell August 6, 2013 - 11:19 am
Enjoy :) This is so yummy!!!
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cottagebunnyWanda Tracey August 22, 2013 - 8:45 pm
Thanks so much for the Caprese salad recipe.This is the perfect time of year to make this salad when the tomatoes are ripe on the vine and the basil is fresh from the garden.It sounds delicious and I am going to make it for my family.
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Jeni Mitchell August 22, 2013 - 9:18 pm
You're quite welcome. This salad is delicious. Please let us know what you think of it.
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Jeri Accardo August 25, 2013 - 5:35 pm
My husband is Italian, and he is going to love this one!
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Jeni Mitchell August 28, 2013 - 2:07 pm
I bet Jeri. Please let us know what he thinks. Hands down this is my favorite summer salad. If I can find decent tomatoes and Basil in the winter, I'll even make it then, but it's not the same as during the summer.
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Vesper August 27, 2013 - 2:30 pm
Looking good - I think I might have to start growing my own fresh Basil - certainly can't get it locally
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Jeni Mitchell August 28, 2013 - 1:49 pm
This is the first year I've grown my own Basil and I know it won't be my last. It really has been easy. I did have a little help from something called the Earth Box. You can check out my review here. The Earth Box did make things really easy, but in talking with others, I have learned that Basil really is one of the easiest herbs to grow. Ensalada Caprese is just one of the many wonderful things you can make with it too. Adding Basil to spaghetti sauce...YUM! Really, there isn't much you can't add Basil too. It will enhance most any meal. Did I mention Pesto? Please let us know what you think of the recipe Vesper.
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Michelle F. September 23, 2013 - 1:12 am
looks so good and fresh
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marissa lee September 26, 2013 - 9:55 pm
this looks awesome...can't wait to give it a try.
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Shannon January 16, 2014 - 6:47 am
Oh my goodness so simple, and so pleasing to the eye. This would be great for parties. I am going to make this later in the year. Thank you.
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Carol L January 17, 2014 - 5:20 am
Well I am now drooling. :) I grew up in a big Italian family so this salad was everywhere we gathered form showers to weddings to downright snacking. I also add a drizzle of good olive oil to mine and usually add the Balsamic vinegar as well. A healthy and delicious salad that takes no time at all. Thanks for the post. I now have to make this. :) Carol L
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