Caprese Salad is a beautiful and classic dish using fresh tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese. There are many variations on this classic dish, but my favorite way to punch up this classic is to grill the tomatoes. This Grilled Tomato Caprese Salad features all of the classic elements, but carries a punch up grilled flavor that deepens and enhances the flavor of ripe summer tomatoes.
The simplest foods are sometimes the best foods.
There is so much beauty in simple food, and a Caprese Salad really embraces tasting all of the naked elements. Ripe Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil Leaves, Aged Balsamic, and good Extra Virgin Olive are very simple elements that all come together for a unique and beautiful taste that speaks of summer, and adding a bit of grilled flavor to the tomatoes just intensifies that star flavor and adds a touch of richness.
It is as simple as good Tomatoes.
Making this salad really begins with picking good produce. During the summer the farm stands and grocery stores are brimming with beautiful and often local produce that is being picked at its best. Choose a variety of tomato that is very firm. This could be a large beefsteak tomato or even smaller cherry tomatoes. You do need a firm tomato for this recipe because it needs to hold up to some heat from the grill.
Fresh Mozzarella is like a blank canvas.
Choose a good quality fresh Mozzarella. Avoid processed mozzarella, as it is too firm and is much saltier. Fresh Mozzarella is a pretty bland cheese with very little salt. A good one will be firm, but still have a creamy texture and a slight sweetness from the milk. This cheese is Italian basic and is a great accent to strongly flavored foods, and a good conveyance for stronger flavors like our basil and balsamic.
Grilling Tomatoes for this Caprese salad is super easy. Just heat up a grill pan or your barbecue to start. Slice the tomatoes into ¼” pieces so you have nice thick slices. If you choose a cherry tomato, just wash them and leave them whole. Brush on some Extra Virgin Olive oil and sprinkle a little salt and pepper onto both sides of the tomato slices.
Place the tomatoes onto a hot grill pan. You should hear a little searing sound as you place them on the grill. Let them cook for about 2 minutes on each side. This should be just enough time to get a few grill marks and warm the tomatoes through. This little bit of cooking dramatically changes the taste of the tomatoes, making them sweeter and richer.
Beautiful Layers Makes a Beautiful Caprese Salad
Now, we eat with all of our senses. While it isn’t necessary for good taste to make perfect rows of tomatoes, building a pretty salad and making a little effort makes this simple salad taste very special.
Layer the tomatoes and mozzarella on a place alternating back and forth until you run out. Cut or tear ribbons of fresh basil and sprinkle it over the top. Drizzle a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and aged baslamic vinegar over the top. It will be beautiful to look at, and you will be hit with the gorgeous smell of fresh basil and grilled tomatoes before you even take a bite.
Grilled Caprese Salad: Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad
- 2 Large Beefsteak Tomatoes Any Firm Round tomato will work
- 8 oz Fresh Mozzarella
- 4 Sprigs Fresh Basil
- 1 Tbsp Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Start by heating up a grill pan on medium heat.
- Wash and slice tomatoes into thick slices. Brush with extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Lay the slices down on the hot grill pan and cook for approximately 2 minutes on each side. Once they have cooked on both sides, remove them from the grill and set the aside until you are ready to assemble the caprese salad.
- While the tomatoes are cooking, slice fresh mozzarella to mimic the size of the tomato slices. Wash basil and cut into ribbons.
- Layer the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella alternately on a platter. Sprinkle the basil ribbons and a touch of salt over the salad. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
For more great salads check out 15 Spring Side Dishes.
"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in fruit salad. " -Miles Kington