Caprese Salad With Balsamic Drizzle has ripe, juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, fresh basil, and a sweet and tangy balsamic reduction for an extra punch of flavor in every bite! This classic Italian appetizer is summer on a plate!
I can’t get enough of Caprese Salad! It’s my favorite salad of all time! When summer tomatoes and basil are at their peak, I will eat it just about every day and never get bored with it (I’m eating it right now!!). It’s so simple to put together, and the flavor combination is pretty hard to beat!
Traditionally, Caprese salad is just tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil seasoned with salt and drizzled with olive oil – super simple and super delicious. I eat it that way a lot. BUT I really love it drizzled with an easy-to-make balsamic reduction that is both sweet and tangy and really brings the salad to life!
This salad is a great start to any summer meal – whether you’re gettin’ a little fancy or just grillin’ and chillin’. It’s always a hit that everyone loves. It also makes an awesome quick and easy lunch (serve with some crusty bread – heaven!).
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED:
- Balsamic vinegar
- Maple syrup or honey
- Fresh tomatoes
- Fresh mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil
- Olive oil (regular or extra virgin)
- Salt and pepper
The better your ingredients, the better your salad will be! Since there are so few, you want to get the best you can find. This salad is all about FRESH!
The tomatoes are, by far, the most important when it comes to the quality of this salad. You want good tomatoes that have some FLAVOR, baby! If it’s summer, use tomatoes fresh from your garden or get them from a local farmers’ market.
You definitely want to use fresh mozzarella cheese. The taste and texture is completely different from the mozzarella you might grate up for a pizza. It’s softer, creamier, and sooo delicious. It really makes a huge difference!
The basil has got to be fresh. Dried basil will not be the same – not even close. Please don’t use it in this recipe. Fresh basil is not hard to find these days (I can even get it out here in the boonies). You could even grow it yourself!
HERE’S A QUICK LOOK AT HOW TO MAKE CAPRESE SALAD WITH BALSAMIC DRIZZLE:
I try to use tomatoes that are similar in diameter to my ball of mozzarella cheese so that everything is the same size.
I prefer to chiffonade/chop my basil and sprinkle it over the top of the salad rather than using the whole leaves, which can be a bit strong. If you’d rather use whole leaves, just tuck them in there between the tomatoes and mozzarella for a really nice presentation.
When you drizzle the balsamic reduction on your salad, I suggest not being too heavy-handed. It’s there to enhance the flavor of the salad, not overwhelm it. You don’t want your salad drowning in it (unless, of course, you do – in which case, drizzle away!).
This salad is best served fresh. For the best flavor, I don’t recommend making it in advance. Neither tomatoes nor basil like the cold of the refrigerator. You can go ahead and make the balsamic drizzle ahead of time, but assemble the salad just before serving. It only takes a few minutes, and you’ll be so glad you did!
TIP: When making the balsamic reduction, be very careful not to reduce it too much or burn it. If you do, it will become too thick when cooled or even as solid as a rock as it cools, and you won’t be able to use it! Trust me. I’ve done it.
My advice? Don’t boil it like crazy – just let it simmer gently – and don’t walk away when you’re making it. For the 8 to 10 minutes it takes, just keep an eye on it. You want to take it just to where you have about 3 tablespoons left. If it starts to foam up, you’ve likely taken it too far.
Since it has reduced substantially from the ½ cup we started with, it will be slightly thicker, but it will NOT be very thick and syrupy, so don’t look for that. Pay more attention to the quantity. I prefer to stay on the thinner side just to be sure I don’t take it too far. It thickens slightly more upon cooling, but it’s definitely more of a drizzle than a thick glaze.
Of course, if you really don’t feel like making the balsamic reduction, go ahead and buy a bottle of balsamic glaze. I won’t tell anyone.
Here are some fun variations on this Caprese Salad:
- Tossed Caprese Salad: Use halved grape or cherry tomatoes and cube the mozzarella (or use those cute little balls of mozzarella!). Toss with chopped fresh basil, a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and some of the balsamic drizzle.
- Caprese on a Stick: Place one cherry tomato, one basil leaf, and one cube or ball of mozzarella on a skewer. Repeat. Drizzle skewers with olive oil and the balsamic drizzle. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Caprese Sandwich: Get a really good, chewy, crusty sub roll. Add tomato slices, mozzarella slices, and basil leaves (or chopped basil). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with the balsamic drizzle (or drizzle it right on the bread). Holy. Crap! One of the best sandwiches EVER!
I hope you try this recipe for Caprese Salad With Balsamic Drizzle and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!
Caprese Salad With Balsamic Drizzle
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 8 slices fresh tomato, each slice about ¼ inch thick
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into 8 slices, each about ¼ inch thick
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (regular or extra virgin)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 fresh basil leaves, cut into long, thin strips (about 2 tablespoons sliced)
MAKE THE BALSAMIC DRIZZLE:
- Combine the balsamic vinegar and maple syrup (or honey) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until it has reduced to about 3 tablespoons. This will take 8 to 10 minutes. Note: Be very careful not to reduce it too much or burn it! If you do, it will become hard when it cools, and it won't be usable. If it gets foamy and thick, you've likely taken it too far. Simmer it gently and keep an eye on it. It will NOT become thick and syrupy, so don't look for that. Instead, pay attention to the quantity. It's ready when there are about 3 tablespoons left.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely (you can put it in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling).
MAKE THE CAPRESE SALAD:
- Alternately arrange the tomato and mozzarella cheese slices on a serving dish (tomato, mozzarella, tomato, mozzarella, etc.).
- Drizzle the tomatoes and mozzarella with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle with some of the balsamic drizzle. Note: You likely won't need to use all of it. Sprinkle with basil.
- Serve immediately.
- To easily slice/chiffonade the basil: stack the basil leaves on top of one another and roll them up. Thinly slice through the roll crosswise, and this will give you nice thin slices.
- This salad is best served fresh rather than made ahead of time. Neither the tomatoes nor the basil like the refrigerator. I recommend making the balsamic drizzle ahead of time, but put the salad together right before serving.
- Refrigerate any leftover balsamic drizzle. It should last for several weeks.