A perfect Caprese salad is one of the simplest and best ways to enjoy ripe tomatoes. It allows the tomatoes to really shine at the peak of the season. When I (Sarah) first visited Italy in college, one of my favorite memories was sitting on a terrace in Ischia overlooking the Mediterranean and eating a Caprese salad. When we returned to Rome, my roommates and I went to a shop to buy balsamic vinegar and oil, then we would stop over to the farmer’s market in Campo d’Fiori to buy basil and tomatoes. Tip: when you go to an Italian farmer’s market, don’t touch the produce. The vendor will choose the best of what they have for you.
We’ve made this for dinner for ourselves numerous times in the peak of tomato season, and even for guests. Our friend Chris is gluten-free, so this was a perfect main dish when he came over for dinner. We made two long rows of beautiful tomatoes that hit the spot! Want to have a simple dinner party that you can prepare head of time? Make a big caprese salad, with some charcuterie, cheese, and olives. Add some focaccia or crispy bread and a few bottles of wine and you’re set!
When you are storing your tomatoes, do not refrigerate them. They turn sort of mealy and loose the texture and flavor of a good sweet tomato. Our favorite is freshly picked off the vine. Both of our parents are gardeners, but since we don’t have a garden of our own, we like to get our tomatoes at local farmer’s markets.
You’ve probably heard us say this before, but when cutting tomatoes, we always turn to our serrated bread knife. We love this knife and it’s a workhorse in our kitchen, especially for tomatoes and crusty bread.
We’d recommend using a really good balsamic vinegar and olive oil. For this recipe, since you’re not cooking it, it’s even more important to have super-high quality ingredients. How much would you spend on a good bottle of wine or an amazing steak? A similar bottle of olive oil and vinegar lasts long much longer than either! Some examples of balsamic vinegars we would recommend would be this, this, or for an over-the-top option, (we haven’t tried it but I totally would) there’s this one that’s been aged for 25 years. It might be a good gift option for the serious cook. You could also using saba instead. It’s a touch sweeter than balsamic, but is completely delicious. Olive oils that we would suggest include this or this.
- Alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
- Top with salt, pepper, and basil.