Insalata caprese is a beautiful tomato and mozzarella salad from the Isle of Capri. It is green, white and red like the Italian flag and is perfect to have in the summertime. Made simply and with the very best ingredients: tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella or cow’s milk mozzarella, basil, salt and extra-virgin olive oil. Variations today may include rocket, pesto, capers, fresh oregano or balsamic vinegar. The salad is usually served with Italian bread for antipasto or as a salad with other dishes.
My version of insalata caprese, which I make for Christmas and other special occasions, includes mixed heirloom tomatoes and rocket. Rather than the usual overlapping slices, I tear the mozzarella into pieces, cut the tomatoes into chunks and arrange casually over the rocket leaves. It takes only minutes to put together and is a real treat. The quantities in the recipe are given just as a guide.
Insalata Caprese (Caprese salad)
- 1 bunch rocket
- 1 kg heirloom tomatoes
- 3 x 125g balls buffalo mozzarella, or fresh cow’s milk mozzarella
- 1 medium bunch of basil
- 2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- flakes of sea salt
- Balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Italian bread
The salad should be assembled just before serving. Wash and dry the rocket leaves, tomatoes and basil. Cut the tomatoes into thick slices or chunks and the smaller ones into quarters and halves. Tear each mozzarella ball into about four pieces or if you prefer cut into slices.
Place the rocket leaves on a large serving plate and arrange the tomatoes over them. Add the mozzarella pieces on and between the tomatoes. Tear the basil leaves and scatter over the top and tuck in some whole leaves and sprigs to decorate. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle the olive oil over the salad. Offer the pepper mill and Balsamic vinegar for people to add if they wish. Serve the insalata caprese quite soon after making with Italian bread.