When I can, I use fresh vegetables and basil from our garden. (I will tell you though, winters are long waiting for our garden to start up again!)
For the type of Caprese pictured at left, you need: some grape or cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella "pearls" from the deli section, (or a cubed block of store bought mozzarella will substitute in a pinch) fresh basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground pepper, and a drop of balsamic vinegar. The amounts will vary depending on the flavors you prefer, but generally, use equal amounts of cheese and tomatoes, and add all the other ingredients to taste, going light on the oil as to not make it too soggy, and going the lightest on the vinegar or it will be way too strongly flavored.
Wash basil leaves gently, and set on a towel to dry.
Meanwhile, cut the grape tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place in a serving bowl.
Add the (drained) mozzarella pearls or cubes to the bowl and mix well.
Take 3-4 leaves of the washed and dried basil, and lay them in a pile. Roll lengthwise into a tube (does not have to be perfect) and hold together in one hand, while snipping thin slices into the bowl with kitchen scissors.
Drizzle Olive Oil, one or two tablespoons at a time, mixing to distribute, until the desired amount is added.
Add freshly ground pepper, a dash of salt about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar if desired. (Do not add too much!)
Mix well, and chill until serving. Enjoy with some Italian bread.
Some people like to add things like black olives, shredded chicken or prosciutto, to this dish, making it more versatile. Feel free to use this recipe as a starting point and experiment with different combinations!
How do you make your Caprese salad? As it is or do you add unusual ingredients? Please share with us in the comments section!