Best Caprese Salad Ever

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First of all I know Caprese salad is easy to make and you don't really need a recipe but there are a lot of variations and add in's you can include to make it your own in ways you can't even dream of!

One of my favorite things to make for lunch or an appetizer is Caprese salad. It's quick, easy and delicious. You only need a few ingredients that are fairly cheap and can add different things to change it up a bit. I just love biting into the sweet fresh ingredients it relaxes me and sometimes I just need simplicity in my life.

I cook dinner Italian style usually, meaning we will have a table full of olives, cheese, crusty bread and wine to start with while I am cooking dinner. So I can throw this together in a cinch to munch on while I make my feast. I have traveled to Capri, Italy where this whole Caprese salad originated and I've ate more fresh mozzarella than you want to hear about so I know what I'm talking about. Got it?

Grocery List---
-Best tomatoes you can find (I get mine from the Farmer Market during the Summer and Fall) or buy the deepest red colored tomatoes I can find. Roma tomatoes would be the best if your going for looks because they slice up nicely. I'm more concerned with taste so I go for whatever kind looks the sweetest and most ripe.
-Fresh Mozzarella make sure it's the squishy kind and not the hard kind. If they have handmade fresh at the store I usually get that one rather than the kind that's shipped in. Jungle Jim's has a fresh mozzarella rolled with Pepperoni that is to die for!!!
-GOOD Olive oil-- What is good olive oil? The kind that smells fruity and peppery, if it smells like olives they picked them too ripe and it won't give you the same flavor. It's also not as good for you as the kind made with the lesser ripe olives. Don't ask me why this is what we were told when we went olive oil tasting in Chianti, Italy and I think the Italians know a thing or 2 about good olive oil.
-Balsamic Vinegar- Sometimes I make it with the cheap stuff and sometimes I use the aged Balsamic. Aged Balsamic is nice because it's thicker and sweet. The perfect medium between the cheap stuff and the glaze. If you really like sweet things get the Balsamic Glaze from Trader Joe's I think it's only like $4 and it's amazing!! Plus you can make fun little designs on the plate with it :) You can make balsamic glaze on your own, I've tried and burned it every time. Just simmer a little honey and a bottle of balsamic until it coats a spoon.
-Salt and Pepper to taste

Add in's
-Fresh Basil- You could make it without this but I love basil. Since I usually have leftover basil I will buy an extra tomato and make "Caprese Scrambled Eggs" in the morning. Stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them in a cigarette type fashion then slice thinly to create pretty chiffonade ribbons or just tear it with your hands if your not concerned with the "pretty" factor it will look more rustic ;)
-Flat leaf Parsley- I would not buy this specifically for a Caprese salad but a lot of the time I have it in my fridge. I say if you have it use it!! It will add a fresh green taste to your dish since it's not sweet like basil. Just finally chop it confetti style and mix it with the basil.
-Red Onion- Don't bother if your going to use a white onion the red onions are the best here. Just give it a Julianne cut or cut them however you want. It's really just to flavor the tomatoes and cheese. I like to cut mine paper thin if your not good with a knife cut the onion in half and use a vegetable peeler to achieve the thin slice.
-Dried herbs- You can use dried herbs here but I would not recommend it. Caprese salad to me is all about fresh simple ingredients and if you bought good tomatoes they won't need the nasty dried herb crap. BUT!! If dried herbs is your thing go with it. Just don't tell me about it ;)
-Roasted Garlic- Yes, It has to be the roasted kind. If you use fresh you will be burping up garlic for the next 4 hours and if you use the powder your adding fake flavor to your fresh meal. You can find it at your groceries olive bar or you can roast your own but that's a whole other blog post!
-Pesto- Pesto is one of the most amazing things on the planet!! Anytime you have a bunch of leftover fresh Italian herbs you should be making this stuff!! You can use it in anything!! So if you have some or want to make some it would be great on the Caprese!!
-Arugula or Romaine- Make it into an actual SALAD!! Arugula goes good here because it has that peppery taste to it that syncs with the olive oil.
- Roasted Red peppers- I didn't think this would be good until I had a Caprese with them in Napa and it works beautifully!! After I made roasted red pepper pasta sauce I started roasting my own peppers I think it gives it a more homemade taste. Although they are really cheap to buy canned at the store I prefer them homemade. If you make them on your own make sure you get some of that burnt skin mixed into the salad it will add a smokey flavor. Use different colored peppers to create a diverse salad.

**After plating and before serving put the entire plated salad in the fridge for about 15 minutes. It will chill your tomatoes and give the salad time to marinate. The plate itself will get cold allowing your salad to stay cooler longer.

Photos of  my Caprese Salad experiences---

One of the best Caprese salads I have ever made!! Roasted red peppers, fresh market tomatoes, paper thin sliced red onion, good olive oil, aged balsamic, basil, parsley, and fresh cracked sea salt and pepercorns! 

Best Caprese Salad  Recipe
This is a Caprese I made when I was craving ALOT of basil. I literally chopped up the whole pack to put on here and it was amazing!! 

Best Caprese Salad  Recipe
This is the Caprese salad with the Roasted Red Peppers. It was amazing with the Chardonnay we had! 

Fresh Mozzarella on Capri

This is in Italy when we learned how to make fresh mozzarella. This lady was talented and made a mozzarella wreath!! Fancy!! 


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