Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad

Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad could not be more simple nor more delicious. This salad absolutely screams summer and fun.

But it’s not just a good looking salad, this caprese salad with cherry tomatoes is a taste sensation with an amazing burst of flavor in your mouth!!

Shallow bowl of tomato, basil and mozzarella salad.

Summer is the time for fresh, tasty food. And we’re all looking for tempting ways to enjoy food during the long, hot days. My Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad recipe is just that. Appealing to look at but also cool and flavorsome, it’s a salad that is bound to become super popular on your summer lunch table.

Caprese Salad is an Italian classic consisting of fresh basil, mozzarella and tomatoes. Green, white and red to represent the Italian flag. This salad is known as Insalata Caprese in Italy and is fantastic made with really good cherry tomatoes. Caprese means “from Capri” which is where this salad originated.

With ingredients similar to my bruschetta and mozzarella, the combination is a match made in heaven. The acidity and sweetness of tomatoes together with the creamy, buttery mozzarella create a  flavor contrast that is simply perfection!

Technically this is a low carb dish but I can’t think of a better way to eat cherry tomato caprese salad than with homemade bread. This salad is ideal with this ligurian focaccia but if you’re after something a little quicker to make try my garlic ciabatta bread. It’s so good!!

For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.

Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe viewed from above.

Salad recipes like this one which use only a few ingredients rely on the best quality produce, so buy the best you can afford for the optimal flavor.

  • Cherry tomatoes - I like to choose different colored cherry tomatoes. However what is more important is that the tomatoes are fully ripe and fragrant. 
  • Mozzarella - Fresh mozzarella cheese is what you need for this recipe. You can find it in most supermarkets. Individual fresh mozzarella balls are usually sold packed in whey or water. Don’t use low moisture mozzarella or dry packed cheese for this recipe. If you can find buffalo mozzarella then you're very lucky - use it with pleasure!
  • Extra virgin olive oil - Use an extra virgin olive oil that you like the taste of. It doesn’t have to be super expensive but it should be a decent, cold pressed olive oil and importantly, it should be fresh.
  • Sea salt - Salt is crucial to the success of Italian tomato salad. I like sea salt but use what you have. Remember that the saltiness varies between different brands and different types. You may need more or less salt. Use your taste buds as a guide.
  • Dried oregano - This is one herb that is excellent dried provided that it’s fresh. If your spice rack hasn’t seen a new jar of dried oregano in a couple of year, it’s time to buy a fresh jar.
  • Black pepper - Freshly ground black pepper is the best choice. Pepper is optional so if you prefer leave it out.
  • Basil leaves - Dried is not an option in this recipe. Fresh basil leaves have a fragrance that can’t be beaten. Quantity in the recipe card is a suggestion - use as much as you like.

Instructions

Four step process images to prepare this recipe.

Usually this salad is arranged on a plate, alternating ingredients. However gently mixing all the ingredients means the flavors meld and blend perfectly.

  1. Cut the cherry tomatoes and combine in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt. Set them aside for 10 minutes. Then mix in a tablespoon of olive oil. 
  2. Tear the mozzarella into similar sized chunks as the chopped cherry tomatoes..
  3. Arrange tomatoes and mozzarella chunks in a wide serving bowl or platter. Be sure to pour in the juices. 
  4. Sprinkle on torn basil leaves and sprinkle on oregano, pepper, remaining salt (taste to see if needed) and olive oil. Give the whole lot a gentle toss. Scatter with more fresh basil.

Taste the tomates after the initial salting. If too salty, you can pour off some of the juices. If not salty enough, add the remaining amount of salt when seasoning.

Substitutions

  • Tomatoes - instead of cherry tomatoes, you can use grape tomatoes.
  • Mozzarella cheese - use bocconcini also known as mozzarella pearls which are small balls of fresh mozzarella about the size of a large cherry.
  • Use 1 or 2 spoonfuls of basil pesto to dress the salad instead of the oil, torn basil leaves, salt and black pepper.

Variations

Caprese salad with cherry tomatoes is a simple salad and while super delicious as written is also easily adaptable. 

  • Add 2 or 3 teaspoons of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar in step 4.
  • Instead of mozzarella, add slices of avocado for a vegan version. 
  • Add black olives and arugula (rocket) leaves.
  • Make this salad more hearty by adding strips of leftover roast chicken.
  • Finish with a drizzle of  balsamic glaze.

Storage

Leftovers don’t store or freeze well but could be used as a focaccia topping or stirred through hot tagliatelle.

Tips for Success and FAQ’s

Close up of tomato, basil and mozzarella salad in a shallow bowl.

Avoid refrigerating the cherry tomatoes because room temperature enhances the flavor. Source really good ones from the grower’s markets or a good supermarket.

Good ingredients make all the difference. Use decent extra virgin olive oil that you like the taste of and be sure that the dried oregano is fragrant and not stale.

Fresh mozzarella is mild and milky in flavor and usually not salted. Two key factors to success are firstly be sure to taste and salt as needed. Secondly, mozzarella tastes better at room temperature so for this Italian tomato salad take it out while preparing the tomatoes.

Don’t skip salting the tomatoes. This is really the key to this recipe. After salting and resting the tomatoes, taste and add salt according to your preference.

How do you cut tomatoes for caprese?

Cherry tomatoes don’t need much cutting because they’re small already. I usually just halve or quarter if large.

Is caprese salad healthy?

Absolutely! Tomatoes are full of vitamin C, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals as is basil. Plus mozzarella has a good dose of calcium. 

Does a Caprese Salad have the best flavor if you eat it just after assembling the tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and olive oil Or should you let it sit for a while to let the flavors meld?

This salad is best eaten just after assembling and doesn’t need to sit for any length of time. After all, the tomatoes have already been salted and have sat for 10 minutes.

Serving Suggestions

Overhead view of tomato, basil and mozzarella salad in a shallow bowl.

Cherry tomato caprese salad is an ideal side dish but also a delicious appetizer. Serve with crusty bread or focaccia. I love to take a piece of bread at the end and use it to mop up the flavorsome tomato juices. This is referred to as “fare la scarpetta” and means to make a little shoe with the bread.

Whether as a snack, appetizer or side dish, this Caprese salad with cherry tomatoes is one of my favorite salads. And I'm sure it's going to be yours too!

More recipes like this

Shallow bowl of tomato, basil and mozzarella salad.
Print

Caprese Salad Recipe with Cherry Tomatoes

Caprese Salad is an Italian classic consisting of fresh basil, mozzarella and tomatoes. Green, white and red to represent the Italian flag.
Course Appetizer, Lunch, Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 300kcal
Author Marcellina

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes (680 grams) See Note 1
  • 7 ounces fresh mozzarella (200 grams) See Note 2
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves about 20-25 leaves

Instructions

  • Cut the tomatoes in halves or quarters. Don’t be fussy - different shapes and sizes are good. Combine in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and toss gently.
  • Tear the mozzarella into chunks similar in size to the pieces of cherry tomatoes..
  • Arrange seasoned tomatoes in a wide serving bowl or platter, pouring on any juices. Add the mozzarella chunks over the tomatoes.
  • Scatter with torn basil leaves.
  • Then sprinkle the salad with oregano, black pepper and remaining salt.
  • Drizzle on remaining olive oil.
  • Give the whole lot a gentle toss.
  • Scatter with whole basil leaves before serving.

Notes

  1. Cherry Tomatoes - Instead of cherry tomatoes, you can use grape tomatoes.
  2. Mozzarella - Individual fresh mozzarella balls are usually sold packed in whey or water. Don’t use low moisture mozzarella or dry packed cheese for this recipe. Substitute bocconcini or pearl mozzarella if preferred.
Tips for Success
  • Use room temperature tomatoes and mozzarella.
  • Choose decent extra virgin olive oil.
  • Be sure that dried oregano is still fresh and fragrant
  • Taste and adjust seasoning to suit.
For more information and FAQ's read the post above.

Nutrition

Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 1202mg | Potassium: 422mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1330IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 280mg | Iron: 2mg

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