Caprese salads are a summertime favorite when tomatoes and basil are fresh and in season, but this popular salad can be made anytime of the year. This salad is quick and easy to make. It can be prepared as a full meal or a side dish or an appetizer.
What’s even more, there are a lot of fun variations you can try with caprese salads. Today I’ll share the basic recipe I use along with some of my favorite variations including ideas to make this meal high carb or low carb.
What is a Caprese Salad?
Caprese salads have tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil. They traditionally have a dressing like a balsamic. I made one of these for lunch on Sunday. Caprese Salads with tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil, salt and pepper, vinaigrette and olive oil. I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating these daily for the next week.
I bought a 16 oz. package of fresh mozzarella. The more cheese the better. You can buy a log of mozzarella and slice it or buy the mozzarella balls in water. The fresh mozzarella is really key for this recipe.
Caprese Salad Recipes
Caprese Salad Pasta
In order to make this dish high carb or more robust for a meal, rather than a side dish add some carbs to the plate. I’ve found two easy ways to do this. One is to cook pasta, cool it and then add it to the salad. For a higher protein punch try bean pasta or lentil pasta.
Another ideas is to serve the salad with bread. I’ve tried crackers, pita crisps or sliced baguette. You can really experiment here and try different options. The crackers can be eaten on their own or dipped in the salad dressing.
Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes
Caprese Salad Dressing
The most traditional dressing is a balsamic vinaigrette. It complements withe the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes very well. Now I have tried the regular type dressing and I’ve found it to be too runny for my liking. I’ve also tried balsamic “salad dressings” but they don’t have that traditional flavor I’m seeking.
My secret is to buy to the glaze in concentrate!
This version usually comes in a small squeeze bottle and it’s much thicker. You can direct exactly where the dressing goes when you squeeze the bottle and it sticks much better to the food including the basil leaves which can be rather slippery at times.
Caprese Salad Tomatoes
These are one of my absolute favorite summertime salads. I love the versatility and variations that can be made to the traditional caprese salad. My favorite variation last summer was adding the high protein pasta.
Do you prefer caprese salad as a meal, side dish or appetizer?
*This post was originally published in 2011 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.