This tomato basil mozzarella salad is all about summer’s best: ripe tomatoes, fresh cheese and peppery herbs. The flavor is out of this world!
Can there be a recipe that’s too simple to write down? Because this one might be one of the simplest there is. It’s truly one of the greatest taste treats known to man. The mozzarella tomato and basil salad is for when the summer tomatoes are the juiciest and the summer basil is bushy. It’s also called Caprese salad (salad from Capri, Italy) and it’s one of the most iconic Italian recipes out there. Eat it as a side dish for entertaining, or as Alex and I do: with two forks, eating off the same plate and exclaiming “Wow!” every few seconds or so.
Related: 15 Summer Side Dishes You Need
How to make mozzarella tomato basil salad
The key to a stellar mozzarella tomato basil salad is this: use the highest quality ingredients. Let’s start with the tomatoes. If you are reading this and it’s not tomato season: you may want to reconsider making this recipe! Let’s talk about how to choose the best ingredients for this salad.
Tip 1: Get best quality, ripe tomatoes!
Start with ripe, in season, local (if possible) tomatoes. When we made this recipe, we used heirloom tomatoes from our local farmer’s market.
- What are heirloom tomatoes? Heirloom tomatoes are a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family by saving the seeds. When you buy heirloom tomatoes, you’ll notice that their color and shape are much more varied than the typical round red tomato. They can vary from chartreuse to gold to purple to orange, from small and round to large and squat.
- You can use any variety! Of course, you can use any variety of tomato for this recipe. But we love using heirloom tomatoes because of the variety of colors and sizes on the plate. Buying local tomatoes helps support your local farmers: so if there’s a chance to do so, we heartily recommend it!
Tip 2: Find quality fresh mozzarella.
Fresh mozzarella is a must for this tomato basil and mozzarella salad. The higher quality the cheese, the better! Ask at your local grocery store if you’re looking for help with finding a good quality mozzarella. Or better yet, find a local cheesemaker! We’re lucky to have local fresh mozzarella here in Indianapolis, so if you live in a big city, this might be an option for you. (Tulip Tree Creamery is our source if you’re local.)
Tear the mozzarella into large pieces for our mozzarella tomato basil salad. You could slice it into rounds, too. Whatever looks beautiful to you!
Tip 3: Get fresh basil, or grow your own!
If you can grow fresh basil at home yourself, do it! Our top tip for summer cooking is to grow a basil plant. It’s easy to do, and you’ll find yourself using it on everything. Here are a few notes:
- Grow basil at home if you can! There is nothing quite like the flavor of fresh basil in the summer! It’s also much cheaper to grow at home. We have a tutorial for how to do it: How to Grow Basil.
- Or find high quality store bought. Of course, you can also buy basil at the store! Depending on your grocery store, it can vary in quality: especially in the winter months. Of course, this mozzarella tomato basil salad is best in the summer…did we say that yet?!
Top mozzarella tomato basil salad with balsamic drizzle, if you’d like!
The simplest version of mozzarella tomato basil salad is simply olive oil and salt. Again, quality matters, so use the highest in quality olive oil that you can. Olive oils vary widely, so try to find one that fits your budget that you also like the flavor of. Or you can, drizzle with some homemade balsamic reduction. Here’s are some notes about topping with a reduction:
- It adds a tangy pop. Balsamic drizzle steps up all the flavors a notch!
- Get store bought, or make at home. To make homemade balsamic reduction, you simply simmer balsamic reduction for about 10 to 15 minutes until it reduces in about half and makes a syrupy drizzle. It’s perfect for crostini, sandwiches, salads, pizzas: and this mozzarella tomato basil salad, of course! Here’s how to make balsamic reduction.
How to store tomatoes
Lastly, let’s talk about how to store tomatoes! Have you heard, “Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator?” This is mostly true. When you get heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market, set them on your counter to fully ripen.
But according to Food52, you can store ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator! If they’re fully ripe, it can extend their life a few days. Just make sure to allow refrigerated tomatoes to come to room temperature before serving. No one likes a cold tomato!
This mozzarella tomato basil salad recipe is…
Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, try some brands of vegan mozzarella: we’ve heard there are some good ones these days (comment below if you know of one).Print
This tomato basil mozzarella salad is all about summer’s best: ripe tomatoes, fresh cheese and peppery herbs. The flavor is out of this world.
- 6 to 8 ripe heirloom tomatoes, of different colors and sizes
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 handful basil leaves
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Balsamic reduction (optional)
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Category: Salad
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Mozzarella Tomato Basil, Mozzarella Tomato Basil Salad, Caprese Salad, Tomato Salad
More tomato salad recipes
There are so many ways to make a tomato salad! Here are some of our favorite tomato recipes that vary this concept by adding and changing up ingredients and styles of cuisine:
- Fresh Tomato Salad A symphony of beautiful summer flavors!
- Tomato Cucumber Salad Add cucumber and red onion and you’ve got a unique spin.
- Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad This one features Mexican style flavors: add avocado, lime and cilantro.
- Perfect Burrata Salad Accessorize burrata with tomatoes and arugula for a showstopper.
- Greek Salad The quintessential Mediterranean tomato salad!
Last updated: May 2020
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.