Why wait in line at the deli when you can make your own cherry tomato, mozzarella and basil salad in seconds using a wonderfully simple trick? Learn an easy kitchen hack to slice cherry tomatoes fast, plus make this no-cook Caprese salad your signature dish. It’s a great go-to for backyard barbeques, beach gatherings, festivals and any other party or activity where you’ll arrive with the fresh fragrance and delicious tastes of the season packed into one large bowl.
Watch the video and read our step-by-step below for a helpful kitchen hack that’ll help you build a tomato salad faster than you can order and pay for one.
Begin by having your ingredients—that’d be cherry tomatoes, bocconcini or small mozzarella balls, fresh basil leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper—close by.
Grab the Lids
Find two storage container lids of the same size. These are the essential tools for this trick. Don’t worry: No lids will be damaged during this hack. If you’re convinced that you don’t have lids to spare, head to your pantry. Borrow some from coffee cans, breadcrumb canisters or other containers with lids; this technique works even if your lids are square. If you can’t find plastic lids, look for two small plates that are as flat as possible. (The technique works just as well!) Grab a mixing bowl for combining everything together, too.
Halve the Tomatoes
Flip one lid over so it’s lying upside down on your cutting board or counter. That’s so the lip of the lid holds the tomatoes in place. Stand as many cherry tomatoes in one layer on the lid so they’re snug and stable. Lay the second lid over the tops of the tomatoes. Place one hand over the top lid and press down to hold it securely. Take a sharp knife, and, working from one side, horizontally slice the tomatoes in half by moving the knife through the space between the lids. The sharper the knife is, the quicker and cleaner the process will be. Once the tomatoes are sliced in half, place them in your bowl. Repeat the process as many times as you need based on how much salad you want to make.
Slice the Mozzarella
Drain a container of fresh mozzarella balls. Bocconcini or ciliegine are ideal for this recipe because they’re about the same size and shape as your cherry tomatoes. Arrange them in the lid the same way you did with the tomatoes. Here’s a knife tip: Mozzarella tastes best when it’s room temperature, but that means you’ll need your best knife to slice through the cheese. You may have heard all the tricks to cutting mozzarella, but the best option is to use a serrated bread knife for the cleanest cut.
Put your hand on the top lid, gently pressing down to secure both lids and the cheese. Take your knife and slice horizontally through the balls to cut them in half. Drop the halved balls in the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. As with the tomatoes, repeat the process if you have more than one round of mozzarella to cut.
Chop or Chiffonade the Basil
You’re done with the lids—but keep your knife or a mezzaluna handy. Take a handful of fresh basil leaves, give them a rough chopping and then sprinkle them into the bowl of tomatoes and mozzarella. If you’re feeling fancy, try giving your basil a chiffonade like we did in the video above. Hang on to a couple of whole leaves to garnish the dish at the end.
Drizzle and Go
Bring out your favorite olive oil (we love the Sicilian-grown Bona Furtuna) and drizzle it on top of the bowl. After that, grind some fresh black pepper over the dish. Gently toss the mixture, garnish with basil leaves and you’re ready to go.