Classic Caprese Salad Recipe (VIDEO)
Tomato, Mozzarella, and basil come together to form a unique encounter of flavors, in a traditional combination in the Mediterranean diet known as Caprese Salad or Classic Caprese Salad.
Origin and History of Caprese Salad
Whether classic, revisited or alternative, the caprese salad has always met with the same success over the years, constituting a ubiquitous dish on the menus of Italian families, not just in the summer.
It is more than obvious that the origin of the Caprese salad is entirely Italian, also given the colors of the salad, which recall the Italian flag. But who really invented the caprese is not clear.
The most accredited thesis seems to be that relating to a bricklayer from Capri who, at the end of the 1940s, chose to stuff his sandwich with tomato, mozzarella, and basil during his lunch break, making headlines for his patriotic ardor: the white of the mozzarella, the red of the tomato and the green of the basil reflect the colors of the Italian flag.
Another story, however, speaks of an event that occurred to the King of Egypt Farouk, in the same period, to whom this dish was offered as a snack during a stay in Capri.
While a previous legend, attributable to the 1920s, tells of the futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, also staying on Capri, who ate the caprese salad at a well-known hotel on the island.
In short, whatever the most likely story, one thing is certain: caprese is an all-Italian dish, typical of Capri!
Ingredients of the Classic Caprese Salad
The main ingredients of the original recipe are few and very simple. But just the right ingredients are not enough to make a perfect classic caprese. They must be super fresh and superlative quality ingredients!
- Tomato – Avoid canned tomatoes, green, overripe, or small tomatoes. The product must be of a size congruent to the mozzarella so that when you cut it into slices, it will adapt to its shape. Avoid “copper-colored” tomatoes and prefer organic ones, favoring heavy ones (therefore with a lot of “substance” inside).
- Mozzarella – Also in this case choose “artisan” foods, perhaps going to buy them directly at the dairy. To give even more flavor to the Caprese, Buffalo Mozzarella from Campania could be the right move both for taste and to respect tradition. But if you can’t find buffalo mozzarella, even a good Fior di Latte will be an excellent solution.
- Basil – Not only a decorative ingredient but an indispensable one. A self-respecting Caprese salad requires a few tufts of tasty basil, possibly freshly removed from the plant. It’s not an impossible feat: Basil is easy to grow, even on the terrace. Choose the large-leaf Neapolitan one and add it just before serving the Caprese because it tends to wither and blacken.
- Olive Oil – The oil must be exclusively extra virgin olive oil. Choose it with a fruity and delicate taste and do not add too much.
- Dried oregano – Many people add it in place of basil or even together. Whether it’s fresh or dried, choose it of excellent quality and very fragrant.
- Black pepper, and salt – You can add freshly ground black pepper and salt, but always without exaggerating, or you will ruin the delicious and authentic flavor of the Caprese salad.
How to Make Classic Caprese Salad
Caprese is a classic summer recipe that is very fresh and easy to prepare at the last minute.
Wash and dry the tomatoes perfectly, then cut them into 6 – 7 mm thick slices with a fine-bladed knife. Slice the mozzarella into 6-7 mm thick slices and pat them dry with paper towels to absorb any excess water. Finally, assemble the dish, adding a few basil leaves to the bottom of the dish where you are going to serve the caprese. Alternate the tomato slices with the mozzarella slices on the plate. Season with oregano, black pepper, salt, olive oil, and a few fresh basil leaves. Your Caprese Salad is ready to be served and enjoyed right away!
Caprese Salad Variations
Although the classic recipe is the one we have just outlined, it is possible to create variations that deviate more or less from the original.
For example, you can create the same caprese but changing the choice of products: thus replace the large mozzarella with bite-sized pieces and the tomatoes with “pachinos” or cherry tomatoes, and you will already get a different effect.
Very popular, especially in summer, is the caprese salad with olives and capers, or the one with oregano and anchovies, for a real “marinara”. Without forgetting an entirely exotic version, with avocado and lime.
There are also those who prefer green tomatoes to the classic red ones, while in winter a succulent alternative could be represented by dried tomatoes. But you can also replace mozzarella, with Parmesan, for example.
In short, whether you prefer tradition or an alternative to it, the caprese salad remains one of the truly unique and unmistakable dishes of all-Italian cuisine.
Watch Classic Caprese Salad Video Recipe
Caprese Salad Tips & Tricks
While it’s really hard to get this traditional Italian dish wrong, with these tips you’ll make the perfect classic Caprese salad!
In addition to the quality of the ingredients, which I have already mentioned above, you should pay attention to:
- The temperature of mozzarella. The mozzarella must not lose too much milk, otherwise it alters the flavor of the tomato. The idea is to keep it at room temperature for a couple of hours before preparing the Caprese, dabbing the slices with kitchen paper from time to time to remove excess liquid.
- Tomatoes and water. Once the tomatoes have been cut, pat them dry a bit to remove excess water, as you did with the mozzarella.
- Salt. If possible, salt should only be added to the tomatoes and not to the mozzarella.
- Condiments. Mayonnaise, vinegar, olives, eggs, and sauces of any kind such as pesto must not appear in the Classic Caprese Salad. Excessive condiments and combinations would cover the balanced taste of mozzarella and tomato.
Classic Caprese Salad Recipe
- 400 g Classic round red tomatoes ripe
- 400 g Mozzarella at room temperature Buffalo mozzarella or Fior di Latte
- 8-10 Fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Freshly ground black pepper
- A pinch of salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Wash and dry the tomatoes perfectly, then cut them into 6 – 7 mm thick slices with a fine-bladed knife. Pat them dry with paper towels to remove excess water,
- Slice the mozzarella into 6-7 mm thick slices and pat them dry with paper towels to absorb any excess water.
- Finally, assemble the dish, adding a few basil leaves to the bottom of the dish where you are going to serve the caprese. Alternate the tomato slices with the mozzarella slices on the plate.
- Season with oregano, black pepper, salt, olive oil, and a few fresh basil leaves.
- Your Caprese Salad is ready to be served and enjoyed right away!