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Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}

Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}

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Caprese Salad or Insalata Caprese or tomato, mozzarella and basil salad is a cult dish of Italian cuisine.

It’s ready in less than 5 minutes and made with the most simple ingredients like sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese seasoned with basil leaves, oregano and extra virgin olive oil.

Caprese salad originated in Campagna region on the small island of Capri in the golf of Naples.

And as many Italian dishes the geographical origin gave the name to the dish.

There is a legend that Caprese Salad was first seen in 1920s at the dinner reception of a famous Italian poet and his colleeges at Hotel Quisisana of Capri.

It was an attempt to add fresh notes to the classic menu of the restaurant AND emphasize on the patriotic colors of Italy that are represented so well in Caprese Salad.

Simplicity in preparation and a perfect marriage of the ingredients made Insalata Caprese an unbeatable choice, especially for summer menu.

But before you get too excited and go ahead and jump into slicing all tomatoes and mozzarella you have there are some ground rules on how not to ruin what’s already perfect.

Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}

First and foremost – ingredients are key.


Make sure you use the most fresh tomatoes you can get. Better yet if they come on a sprig that guarantees incredibly fragrant and fresh tomato.

Make sure your tomatoes are not overripe. Too ripe tomatoes will result mushy and will have too much juice going in the salad.

Choose tomatoes ripe enough but still with a nice crunch to them for the best result.

I love using beefsteak tomatoes or bull’s heart tomatoes for my Caprese Salad as they have less water and taste fantastic. Butt you can get away with any kind of tomatoes you like as long as they meet all the criteria above.

Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella is the second most important ingredient in the the salad.

So make sure you choose it responsibly as well 😉

You’ve probably guessed it – fresh and quality mozzarella is your best bet.

When you cut mozzarella see if it leaks any excess milk or water.

If so tap each slice with a linen towel before assembling it on a plate. You don’t really want any water or milk in your salad.

Basil & Oregano

Green basil leaves fresh picked from your garden or your windowsill is the dream scenario.

But those bought from the farmers market this morning will do a good job as well.

Dried oregano is relatively an optional seasoning but it’s used a lot.

It balances well with fresh basil and fills some spicy notes that otherwise you would want to kick up with some ground pepper.

And the last, but mostly important thought…

RESIST adding anything else.

Especially balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze or other dressing!

I know, temptation is high but if you resist it the reward will pay 10 fold.

Fresh, full of genuine flavors Caprese Salad just like if you’d have it in Italy 😋

Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}
5 from 1 vote

Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}

Caprese Salad or Insalata Caprese or tomato, mozzarella and basil salad is a a cult dish of Italian couisine.
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4


  • 3-4 medium size tomatoes , preferable of the same size
  • 8-10 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese
  • Handful basil leaves
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste (optional)


  • Wash and dry tomatoes and basil with a paper towel.
  • Cut each tomato and mozzarella ball into slices.
  • Layer tomato, mozzarella and basil slices on a platter.
  • Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and oregano or black pepper if you like.
  • Serve as a salad or as an appetizer.
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Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}

Caprese Salad Variations

Caprese Skewers  – instead of using regular tomatoes and large mozzarella ball, get cherry tomatoes and small mozzarella bites instead. This makes a perfect appetizer for crowded parties.

Use Mix of Tomatoes – add more colors to your Caprese Salad by adding yellow, purple or other color tomatoes you have on hand. You can tire mozzarella cheese in pieces instead of slicing it into perfect slices and do the same with basil leaves. This will be a more rustic version but certainly without sacrificing the taste.

Caprese Sandwich – any thoughts on this one? You guest it!

Caprese Salad + Ciabatta Bread Roll generously drizzled with extra virgin olive oil AND… you have the best summer bite on the go.

Do you have your favorite way to make Caprese salad and did I forget any other ways to eat/serve this Caprese masterpiece?
Let me know  in the comments below!

Caprese Salad {How Italians Really Make It}

Buon Appetito!

Recipe Rating

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Friday 1st of January 2021

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Marilyn Hill

Tuesday 4th of June 2019

This the way Caprese Salad was served the very first time I had it, and I agree, it’s the best way. I have done the skewered version as well (for summer parties) and often I’ve used the large gumball-sized fresh mozzarella with the cherry tomatoes. For those non-purists, I serve it with balsamic glaze on the side.

Italian Recipe Book

Thursday 19th of September 2019

Oh yes, you can do Caprese and so many different ways. Love that you give options to people as well :) Thanks for stopping by Marilyn and sorry for my late reply!!