My cherry tomato caprese salad with slivers of red onion, Kalamata olives, and a red wine vinaigrette is the little black dress of summer side salads ~ it goes with everything!
a caprese salad made with cherry tomatoes
This fun salad is a nice alternative to heavier pasta or potato salads, and works just as well as a side for everything from steak and burgers to quiches and sandwiches. If you’re somebody who ogles colorful cherry tomatoes when you see them in the supermarket or farmers markets (raising hand!) this salad is for you. Of course you can make it with all red toms, but the multi-colors are glorious.
A caprese (‘in the manner of Capri‘) salad is composed of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil; usually sliced and layered on a plate. But the combination is so brilliant it’s been translated into sandwiches, pizzas, and all sorts of recipes.
I love to make my salads in large, wide, shallow serving bowls like this one.
This set of bowls gives you size options depending on how many you’re serving. All the beautiful ingredients are visible that way, and nothing gets buried.
- cherry tomatoes ~ red or multi-colored. The cherry tomato market has exploded in recent years, so take advantage of the variety! Look for firm smooth tomatoes and avoid soft or wrinkled produce.
- small fresh mozzarella balls (perline, or little pearls) Note: I toss my perline with a little olive oil and Italian herb blend to give them a little extra personality.
- Kalamata olives add a nice briney flavor that complements all the other ingredients beautifully
- red onion goes in pretty much every salad I ever make, but you can leave it out if you’re not a raw onion person.
- fresh basil is key for the caprese vibe.
- red wine vinaigrette is simple to make and just brings all the flavors together and allows them to meld
variation ideas for a tomato salad
- You might skip the perline and anchor your salad with a burrata cheese instead, for an extra bit of luxury.
- In place of a red wine vinaigrette you could do a fresh basil pesto, thinned to dressing consistency with extra olive oil.
- Add chickpeas, or diced cucumber.
- Crumbled bacon, julienned salami, or feathery pieces of prosciutto would be a nice pop of protein.
- Serve this over fresh greens like arugula or romaine.
- Make it a meal by adding grilled shrimp or thinly sliced ribbons of steak.
what to serve with cherry tomato caprese salad
Whichever way you choose to serve your salad, be sure to include some crusty or toasted bread because there will be lots of juices to sop up.
This salad is pretty much a universal side dish for anything you’re making for dinner this summer. It goes especially well with grilled meats and fish. I think it would be lovely alongside steak, but wouldn’t be out of place with hot dogs and hamburgers.
For lunch it works great with sandwiches of all kinds.
more tomato salads
- Shirazi Salad (Persian Cucumber Tomato Salad)
- Marinated Tomato Salad
- Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad
- Steak and Tomato Salad with A.1. Vinaigrette
- Tomato Salad with Burrata Cheese
- Basil Marinated Mozzarella with summer tomatoes
- Summer Tomato and Tuna Salad
Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 Tbsp olive brine
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- pinch salt
- 3 pints cherry tomatoes
- 4 ounces mini fresh mozzarella balls, perline (pearl size)
- 1/4 small red onion, thinly slivered
- 1/3 cup sliced kalamata olives
- fresh basil leaves
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together to combine. Taste to adjust any of the ingredients to your liking.
- Halve or quarter your cherry tomatoes, depending on size. Add them to a salad bowl.
- Add the mozzarella balls, onions, olives. Note: I like to toss the mozzarella with a little olive oil and Italian seasoning before adding to the salad. This is optional.
- Toss the salad with enough dressing to moisten well. Serve topped with fresh basil and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
- This salad is best served soon after you make it. You can cover loosely and let sit on the counter for up to an hour before serving. Otherwise it should be refrigerated. Note: tomatoes do not do well in the refrigerator, they get mushy, so I don't recommend making this salad more than an hour ahead. You can prep the other ingredients ahead, just don't cut the tomatoes until ready to serve.