Easy to make snack tray which combines vine ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Caprese is a traditional, cold Italian salad which makes good use of the bounty of vine ripe summer tomatoes. Caprese salad can be served as an appetizer, or as the main course for a light lunch. Insalata caprese is a wonderful dish to make during the hot summer months, as it involves no cooking.
Serve caprese salad with lots of crusty, fresh Italian or French bread. The juices from the ripe tomatoes, mix with the olive oil, salt and pepper, to create a wonderful dressing, which can be sopped up with the bread.
Be sure to use fresh mozzarella in this recipe, which is very soft, and comes packaged in water. Those yellowish blocks or hard mozzarella, found at many grocery stores, can’t compare in flavor or texture, to the fresh variety. Any large grocery, gourmet or Italian market should keep fresh mozzarella cheese in stock.
Shop around for flavorful, vine ripe tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are great, but cherry or grape tomatoes may also be used to make insalata caprese. A good quality, extra virgin olive oil should be used when putting together this appetizer platter.
Caprese Salad Ingredients
3-4 ripe tomatoes – sliced
Approximately 1 pound fresh mozzarella – sliced
Fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
French or Italian bread
Caprese Salad Directions
1. Wash and core the tomatoes.
2. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices.
3. Open up the package of fresh mozzarella, and drain off the water.
4. Slice the mozzarella cheese into 1/4 inch thick slices.
5. Alternate layers of tomatoes, cheese and basil leaves on a large serving platter.
6. Sprinkle the appetizer salad with a generous amount of olive oil.
7. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top of the salad.
8. Serve with a basket of sliced, crusty, bread.
9. Serve buffet style, and allow guests to fix individual plates of food.
Caprese Salad Kabobs
Another suggestion for serving caprese as an appetizer is to make the salad into individual kabobs using either a bamboo or metal skewer. One skewer per person is sufficient quantity for each guest. Instead of using slices of large tomatoes, use whole cherry tomatoes.
Recipe Tips and Suggestions
1. In addition to the fresh basil, a bit of finely chopped, fresh rosemary leaves may be sprinkled on top of the salad.
2. To create a vinaigrette dressing, sprinkle a bit of balsamic vinegar and/or freshly squeezed lemon juice, over the layered tomatoes and cheese, before adding the olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. To make a complete appetizer platter, add some kalamata olives and marinated baby mushrooms to the caprese salad tray.
4. A bit of finely chopped garlic can be sprinkled on top of the salad if desired, to add another layer of flavor to the appetizer.
5. Check local farmer’s and green markets for a variety of locally grown, heirloom tomatoes to use in the caprese salad.