Fresh basil, paired with an olive oil & lime juice dressing, adds a fresh and tangy taste to this Easy Caprese Salad Recipe with Cherry Tomatoes. It’s the perfect summer salad!
Some things are worth waiting for. Spring after a long, cold winter. The long days of summer. Fresh herbs out my back door. That’s the way I feel about homegrown tomatoes. They come and go very quickly, but they are so worth the wait. I love tomatoes of any size, but cherry tomatoes are among my favorites…and they make the best Caprese salad!
Why This Recipe Works
- Fresh and vibrant flavors: The combination of cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, and lime olive oil dressing creates a combination of flavors that are bright, tangy, and refreshing.
- Healthy choice: Caprese salad with fresh cherry tomatoes is a nutritious and light option, packed with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats from the olive oil.
- Easy to prepare: This salad requires minimal ingredients and no cooking, making it a quick and convenient dish to whip up for any occasion.
- Versatile dish: Caprese salad can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or even a main course when paired with grilled chicken or fish.
- Seasonal ingredients: Cherry tomatoes and whole basil leaves are at their peak during the summer months, making this salad an ideal choice for warm-weather gatherings and outdoor dining.
Ingredient Notes + Variations
Most traditional caprese salad recipes call for some sort of balsamic vinegar dressing. Even though I have tried, I just don’t like balsamic vinegar. So for this recipe I used the classic combination of olive oil and citrus. The tang of the lime paired with the creamy mozzarella and tomatoes is the perfect combination.
One delicious variation you can try is adding sliced avocado to your main ingredients in this Caprese salad. The creamy texture and mild flavor of the avocado complement the tangy cherry tomatoes and the rich mozzarella cheese beautifully to create the perfect salad.
For a more protein-rich and hearty alternative, you can add grilled chicken or shrimp to make the best Caprese salad that’s more filling. Marinate the protein of your choice in a mixture of lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, and some chopped basil before grilling to ensure that it complements the flavors of the salad. You can either serve the grilled protein on top of the salad or mix it in with the other ingredients. This addition transforms the Caprese salad into a complete meal.
How To Make
- Combine olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk thoroughly.
- In a bowl, combine halved cherry tomatoes and mozzarella pearls.
- Sprinkle chopped basil over top.
- Toss the olive oil mixture thoroughly with the tomatoes + mozzarella, and taste before adding more salt and black pepper, adjusting as needed.
- Serve immediately.
- For best results, make sure to use fresh mozzarella cheese. The bagged shredded stuff or mozzarella slices are just not the same.
- Definitely substitute regular diced tomatoes if you don’t have cherry tomatoes for this fresh salad.
- Chiffonade the fresh basil leaves first and then chop. That way you won’t be crunching down on a big piece of basil.
- This simple salad can be served in a large bowl, or for a pretty presentation, it can be placed on a serving platter. Make sure to garnish these fresh tomatoes with sweet basil.
- You can freeze basil in olive oil and use it to make this salad anytime. Just thaw out enough cubes to equal 1/4 cup of olive oil.
- Serve this Caprese salad with grilled honey mustard chicken for the perfect summer meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s best to use fresh mozzarella. I love mozzarella pearls or small mozzarella balls. Diced fresh mozzarella is delicious as well.
You can prepare the ingredients ahead of time, but it’s best to assemble the salad just before serving to ensure the freshness and prevent the basil leaves from wilting.
Ideally, Caprese salad should be consumed on the same day it is prepared. However, if necessary, you can store the salad in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours in an airtight container. The olive oil dressing will harden. Simply let it come to room temperature before serving.
Yes, you can use any type of ripe tomatoes in your Caprese salad such as grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, or fresh heirloom tomatoes. Just make sure to chop small pieces, as large pieces don’t work as well. Remove excess seeds and liquid to prevent the salad from becoming soggy.
If fresh basil is not available, you can use fresh mint, fresh arugula, or a mix of both as an alternative. These herbs have different flavors, but still add a refreshing touch to the salad.
Yes, you can replace the mozzarella with a vegan cheese alternative, such as cashew-based cheese or store-bought vegan mozzarella.
Apart from lime olive oil dressing, you can try balsamic dressing or a balsamic reduction, honey mustard vinaigrette, or even a simple combination of extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
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Caprese Salad Recipe with Cherry Tomatoes
- 10 oz. cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella pearls
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (juice from one fresh lime)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 8 large basil leaves (chopped)
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine olive oil, lime juice, salt & pepper. Whisk well.
- Put cherry tomato halves & mozzarella pearls in a bowl. Sprinkle with chopped basil.
- Add olive oil mixture and toss well. Adjust with more salt & pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately or will last in refrigerator (covered) for a day or so.