Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction is a mouthwatering summer favourite. Sweet ripe tomatoes with pillowy soft mozzarella and fresh basil drizzled with a delicious balsamic reduction that you can make ahead of time or if you don’t have time, pick one up at the store.
In a serving dish arrange slices of tomatoes, mozzarella, in an alternating pattern until you have created 1 or 2 rows. Scatter the basil leaves in between or over the tomatoes and mozzarella slices.
If using, Sprinkle salad with oregano and arugula.
Drizzle (or spray) olive oil lightly over the top of the salad, followed by a drizzle of balsamic reduction (or glaze if you prefer a bit sweeter).
Before serving, sprinkle with sea salt (you don’t want to season too much as the tomatoes will release a lot of their juices (water)) and fresh ground black pepper.
Serve immediately. This salad is best served within a few hours.
It tastes the best at room temperature.
This mozzarella salad is best served the same day, the salad tastes best when freshly made and assembled. Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days. But make sure not to store the Balsamic reduction and salad together.You can make the Balsamic reduction ahead of time and store it in an airtight container. Right before serving drizzle on the Balsamic reduction and enjoy!Great ingredients are the key. The tomatoes must be at peak, the mozzarella fresh, and the basil delicious. Use a very good olive oil and balsamic reduction, never vinegar straight from the bottle.Balsamic reductionVinegar straight from the bottle would destroy the delicate flavour of the cheese and should never be used. It will also pool around the tomatoes and make them soggy.But a thick reduction can be drizzled with intention, dressed perfectly to your liking.To speed up the prep, you can pick up a bottle of balsamic glaze at the store. However, if you do decide to make your own balsamic reduction, you’ll just need one ingredient: balsamic vinegar. Just follow our easy 1-ingredient recipe for balsamic reduction.If making your own balsamic reduction, prepare it ahead of time to save on prep time.The balsamic reduction is a game-changer. When cooked down to a thick, syrupy glaze, balsamic vinegar becomes deliciously tangy a bit sweeter and less tart, adding extra oomph to every bite. It is so good.Mozzarella (or burrata)Also, using a creamy mozzarella (not the hard, dry kind) adds to the beauty of this dish.No matter how you prepare it, be sure to use the freshest whole-milk mozzarella you can find.Otherwise, find mozzarella balls packed in water. The mozzarella balls that come in vacuum-sealed bags tend to be rubbery and don’t absorb olive oil and tomato juice like the other kinds do.If using small tomatoes, tear the mozzarella into smaller pieces so that every bite strikes the right balance of flavours.My only real deviation from classic Caprese salads was using burrata instead of mozzarella. Burrata is mozzarella with a glorious cream and mozzarella-infused interior. It’s more delicate than pure mozzarella, and it offers more texture and creaminess. I recommend it if you can find it.TomatoesWhen selecting tomatoes, choose fragrant ones that smell earthy at the stem end and feel heavy for their size. Avoid any with wrinkled skins.You can also make a Caprese with smaller tomato varieties, such as cherry, or grape.Cutting TomatoesAlways wash your tomatoes before cutting them.To slice a tomato, start by cutting out the core at the stem end of the tomato. If you’re working with small cherry or grape tomatoes, this step is unnecessary and you can skip ahead to the next step.Then, place the tomato on its side so that the stem end faces to the left or right.Using a sharp knife cut off a small slice (5-10 mm/¼-½-inch thick) of the tomato parallel to the stem and top of the tomato to trim that part off. Keep making parallel cuts toward the bottom of the tomato to form slices.Use the right knife - A small paring knife is best for coring, or cutting small cherry tomatoes. A very sharp chef's knife or serrated knife with teeth are your best bet for slicing. Any serrated knife, like a bread knife or even a steak knife, is a good choice because it has sharp teeth that can grab and cut through the thin skin of your tomato without squishing itGrape or Cherry TomatoesIf using grape or cherry tomatoes It’s doubtful you would ever need to cut these into tiny slices since they’re usually halved or quartered.Whether you halve or quarter them, though, always cut through the stem end — this makes for uniform-looking pieces. Don’t cut them in half the other way (parallel to the stem), because that means one half has the unattractive stem part while the other half doesn’t.Once you get the hang of cutting tomatoes, it’ll become second nature and you’ll end up with gorgeous pieces every time without even having to think about it!Fresh basilYou want beautifully green, well-hydrated basil leaves. The smaller leaves look the nicest, so pick those if you have the option.High-quality olive oilYou don’t have to spend a million bucks on good olive oil. You do need to make sure it’s real, pure, extra-virgin olive oil, which is made from the first pressing of the olives.Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepperNOT the kind from salt and pepper shakers, please. Ideally, you want to use flaky sea salt or pink Himalayan salt but kosher salt will work, too.Freshly ground black pepper from a pepper grinder is the only way to go.
Variations: Use Bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls), sweet cherry or grape tomatoes.
Include a few leaves of wild arugula and a pinch of dried wild oregano.
If you don’t like balsamic reduction or glaze, try it with pesto sauce. It’s also delicious.
Add a layer of avocado slices too. Just remember to add lemon or lime juice to avoid it turns brown.
Or to make it dairy-free/vegan, as long as you’re using great tomatoes, you’ll enjoy this salad without cheese with dollops of a vegan sour cream and/or with slices of avocado.