Caprese Salad Recipe. Main Course Variations

Caprese Salad



This delightful salad heralds spring as surely and as exuberantly as Forsythia and Daffodils

We all love its intoxicating fragrances and bright Italian Red-White-and-Green Flag colors. In spring and summer the basil and the tomatoes are at their very best, and Caprese Salad is a delightful way to showcase them and the Mediterranean Diet.

Caprese Flavor Trio

The three ingredients that must be present in Caprese Salad are tomatoes, basil and mozarella. Likewise, the trademark ingredient in the dressing is a luscious and very easy balsamic reduction. But I love these flavors so much I just play with them and take them places, often making my Caprese Salad main course: hey it’s your lunch, right? so don’t hesitate to cheat and make it grow, as do I, so it can wear more hats and you can enjoy it more often: Start with the easy basic Caprese Salad, eat it as is with your main course, or in a sandwich, or add a few goodies and make it your main course, gluten-free all the way.

Balsamic reduction is such a treat that it would pay to make a bigger batch and store it in a bottle, so you have it on hand, not only for Caprese Salad but to use as a glaze over grilled fish, poached chicken and other favorites.

Vegan Caprese?

Violine vegan feta



Several excellent vegan feta brands    have made dairy-free adaptations of the cheesy classic much more than just acceptable, but perfectly delicious!



Riff on the Classic!



There’s a lot of poetic license you can take with the basic recipe. Just look at these gorgeous drama queen black heirloom tomatoes I found at the market the other day! They begged to be taken home for this salad.
Likewise, don’t hesitate to use another cheese than mozzarella: A nice strong kashkeval or manche go will work beautifully too!




Balsamic Glaze

This brand makes a terrific balsamic glaze
All you need is a little drizzle, so a little will go a long way.

Here then is my Basic Caprese Salad Recipe. Scroll down for the variations.



  • 2 medium beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, sliced (halved mini heirloom tomatoes will work beautifully too)
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, packed, sliced thin into a chiffonade
  • 12 ounces good quality whole-milk mozarella, diced or sliced (dairy-free: vegan feta will work great)
  • Sea salt (very little, taste the finished salad before adding: the cheese is salty) and ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • good drizzle of balsamic glaze (link in the intro)



Place the tomatoes, basil and mozarella in a platter. Sprinkle evenly with salt (if using) and pepper. Drizzle with the oil, and the balsamic glaze.

- Caprese Salad Sandwich: Baguette would be ideal for this: Split your baguette open, and drizzle both sides of your bread with the olive oil and the balsamic glaze. Pile the tomatoes, basil and mozarella. Enjoy right away, or wrap tightly in plastic so as to compress the sandwich, and use a couple hours later as a picnic or brunch buffet treat.

Caprese Add Ins

  • Add thinly shredded romaine or baby kale
  • Throw in some capers and good quality pitted olives
  • Throw in some diced avocado
  • Throw in some sliced roasted red pepper, good quality bottled OK
  • Use heirloom tomatoes if you happen to find them well price on shopping day
  • Add minced shallot or sliced scallions
  • Use a stronger cheese such as parmesan, Manchego, Bleu or Kashkeval
  • Make a Vegan Caprese Salad: Use Silken Extra firm Tofu (I love Mori-Nu Brand) or vegan feta and dice it in the salad, omitting the cheese
  • OK, this is as far as I will go: throw in some chickpeas.

Yield: Serves 4

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