Here on the West Coast, we haven't been hard-hit by the year's devastating tomato blight, so I've been taking advantage of my good fortune by supporting growers of heirloom tomatoes (perhaps a little too much; the other day I bought $21 worth of them!). As a salad fanatic, I had to make my favorite type of tomato salad.

The insalata Caprese, which literally translates to "salad from Capri," is composed of three main ingredients: fresh mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes, and basil leaves. It's a no-brainer to prepare, and takes five seconds to make, so the key is to use top-notch components.

In addition to enjoying the basic Caprese, it's also fun to play around with the recipe. On this day, I chopped up an extra pound of heirlooms, let them sit in a fine sieve until the juice strained through, and whisked the juice with olive oil and seasonings to make a punchy vinaigrette that brought out the savory herbaceousness of tomatoes. Start experimenting when you read more.

Basic Caprese Salad

Basic Caprese Salad


  1. 2 pounds (about 4 large) vine-riped heirloom tomatoes
  2. 1 pound fresh fior di latte or bufala mozzarella
  3. 1/4 cup fresh basil, washed well and dried
  4. Extra-virgin olive oil
  5. Sea salt
  6. Freshly cracked black pepper


  1. Slice mozzarella and tomatoes to preferred thickness (I cut them 1/4-inch thick).
  2. Arrange on a serving platter, alternating tomato, mozzarella, and basil, overlapping elements slightly.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil. Season salad with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 to 6.

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