During the summer months, I serve Insalata Caprese (the classic Italian salad made with mozzarella, tomato and basil) on a weekly basis… and sometimes even more frequently! It is my husband Marc’s and my favorite lunch, hands down – especially when the heirloom tomatoes from our garden are finally ready to harvest.
What’s a Caprese salad without basil? … A chance to get creative.
And, of course, basil is usually the herb I use. But this year, my basil plants were completely destroyed by powdery mildew. In fact, I planted two successive crops and both succumbed to the dreadful fungus.
Substitute mint for basil the next time you make Caprese. You won’t be disappointed!
My mint, on the other hand, is doing great! So the first Caprese I made this season was with Sun Gold cherry tomatoes (the sweetest ever!) and a fresh mint chiffonade. I was so delighted with the result that I immediately knew I needed to publish the recipe, no matter how simple it is.
May this recipe inspire you to give your Caprese a creative twist… I know you’ll be enchanted!
Food & wine pairing: Vin Gris with mint Caprese salad
A light, dry rosé is perfect here – especially a Vin Gris which is barely tinted, less fruity and lighter than its boldly-colored cousins. Look for a Vin Gris from Provence, from the Loire Valley, or from California. Bonny Doon Vineyard, based in Santa Cruz, is famous for their Vin Gris de Cigare – a juicy, mouthwatering and utterly sippable wine that also happens to be a perfect companion to this Caprese.
Caprese with Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and mint chiffonade
active time: 15 min
- 1 lb (455 g) fresh mozzarella
- 2 1/2 cups Sun Gold cherry tomatoes (12 oz) (340 g)
- sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- extra virgin olive oil to taste
- 12 large fresh mint leaves
- Remove the mozzarella from the refrigerator 30 minutes before assembling the dish. (It should be soft and almost room-temperature.) Cut the mozzarella in 3/4″ cubes (roughly the same size as a cherry tomato half). Arrange the mozzarella pieces on a large platter. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and arrange them in between the mozzarella pieces. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and drizzle lavishly with the olive oil. Cut the mint leaves en chiffonade (in 1/16″ slices) and garnish the salad with them. Serve immediately.
- A high-quality, bold, fruity olive oil is de rigueur here… it’ll make your Caprese memorable.