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Classic Caprese Salad

Makes 4 servings15 minutes hands on time15 minutes total time

On those days when it’s too hot to even dream of turning on a stove or oven, consider the Caprese, a refreshing Italian summer salad that requires little more than a knife and four ingredients.

Also known as tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, this is a dead-simple late-summer classic. It is served traditionally as lunch or an appetizer, but on especially hot days we eat it for dinner, which might sound like not enough food, but we eat kind of a lot of it. Especially my daughter Birdy, who identifies this as her “actual favorite meal.”

If you don’t have great tomatoes and good mozzarella, then it might not really be worth making, although in a pinch, Polly-O whole-milk mozzarella, which is not fresh, works, but it has to be that exact kind of that exact brand, and anyway my husband disagrees with me about it so it's probably best to go with fresh if at all possible Also, if you don’t have fresh basil, you can swap a blob of prepared pesto for both the olive and oil and basil, but this is not ideal. (It turns out I am very bossy about a very basic dish!)

Recipe Details: Caprese Salad

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: 15 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

Total carbohydrates: 6 grams per serving


  • 2-3 large tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella (Trader Joe’s is my favorite, and it is the least expensive one I’ve found)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 dozen (or so) fresh basil leaves

Chopped Caprese SaladInstructions

  1. Slice the tomatoes and lay them out on a platter. Salt them generously.
  2. Slice the mozzarella similarly, and lay the slices on the tomatoes.
  3. Drizzle with the olive oil, then top each piece with a fresh leaf of basil and serve.

Recipe Note

I love the gorgeousness and spectacle of serving the salad on a platter, but you can do it more humbly too: Just dice the tomatoes and cheese, sliver the basil, and toss everything in a bowl with the olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and salt to taste. Why do I use balsamic vinegar here, but not in the above version? I don’t know. But that’s what I do.

Photo credits: iStock (top); Catherine Newman (bottom).