Basil Marinated Mozzarella with summer tomatoes ~ this riff on Caprese salad is the ultimate healthy summer tomato salad! The simplest foods are usually the best, and we know instinctively that ripe heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, and fresh mozzarella will taste incredible. Take awesome ingredients and don’t screw them up, it’s the golden rule.
Caprese salad, the simple combination of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil, says summer more than any other recipe.
It’s almost magical how these simple ingredients work together. This recipe just tweaks the formatting a little bit for maximum rewards. Use this as an appetizer or a show stopping tomato salad for your summer meal planning from Memorial Day through the 4th of July and beyond.
If we’re being completely honest here, you’d have to admit that plain mozzarella, no matter how fresh and creamy, can be a little bit…bland. I’ve come up with a solution that bumps up the flavors in this iconic summer tomato salad.
Here’s the simple secret to a better, more flavorful, caprese salad ~
I marinate fresh ciliegine (cherry sized) mozzarella in a combination of basil, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil. It’s essentially a loose pesto sauce ~ the flavor of the basil is intensified and the color is stunning. Instead of layering tomatoes, basil leaves, and sliced mozzarella cheese, and then drizzling it all with olive oil, my caprese salad combines those last three ingredients. The salad not only tastes better, it’s easier to put together, too.
The flavor of the basil, which is amazing anyway, really blooms with this method. So does the color!
You can use your basil marinated mozzarella in lots of other salads, or make them part of an antipasto platter ~ I like to keep a jar in the fridge all summer long. If you have extra marinade, try it on pasta or in an omelette.
Tomatoes and basil are a duo that’s hard to beat, I love the way they work together in my Heirloom Parmesan Tomatoes, the little bit of time under the broiler transforms them into something extra juicy and delicious. I team them up in my Basil Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, and I pair colorful heirloom tomatoes with steak and (and basil of course) in my Steak and Tomato Salad with A1 Vinaigrette.
My pretty wide mouthed Week tulip jars are the perfect size for a batch of basil marinated mozzarella. I use these German jars for canning and storage, I just love them, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, which means there’s a Week jar for every kitchen project imaginable. They can be hard to fine in retail, so I buy them online, and you can too, HERE..
Marinated Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes
- assorted heirloom tomatoes allow one medium tomato per person
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella balls 'ciliegine' or cherry sized (these come packed in liquid, find them with the regular mozzarella cheese in your supermarket)
- 2 ounces fresh basil
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 small lemon
- salt to taste
- Drain the liquid from the mozzarella and fit the little balls into a clean jar.
- Put the basil, oil, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and process until it forms a loose puree. Salt to taste, and add more olive oil if it is too thick.
- Pour the basil sauce over the mozzarella in the jar to cover. Make sure all the cheese is coated with the sauce. Refrigerate until needed, I like to do this at least a few hours ahead of time. Will keep a 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
- To serve, slice the tomatoes and arrange on a platter, or on individual plates. Add the mozzarella and spoon a little of the basil marinade over them. You can also drizzle the marinade over the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
notes and variations
Make this heirloom tomato salad your own ~
- Make basil marinated feta cheese ~ carefully cut the feta in large chunks, or leave it whole.
- Make it with store bought pesto ~ if you go this route, make sure to pick up good quality fresh pesto in the refrigerated section.