For an elegant first-course preparation of this Italian favorite, select eight large tomatoes and serve them whole—one for each guest. Cut each tomato crosswise with four evenly spaced slits, without slicing all the way through. Fill each slit with a slice of cheese and a basil leaf. Set each tomato on a small plate, drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve.
Classic Caprese Salad
For the basil vinaigrette:
- 2 cups (2 oz./60 g) lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 small garlic cloves
- 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2/3 cup (5 fl. oz./160 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 balls fresh mozzarella cheese, about 12 oz. (375 g) total weight
- 2 lb. (1 kg) mix of ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges, and red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes, halved
- Kosher and freshly ground pepper
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish
1. To make the vinaigrette, in a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, vinegars and salt and pulse until the basil is coarsely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and process just until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Transfer to a small bowl or a glass jar and set aside.
2. Cut the mozzarella into slices. Arrange the mozzarella and tomatoes on a platter. Drizzle with the basil vinaigrette (you may not need all of it), season with salt and pepper, garnish with basil leaves and serve. Serves 8.
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