An aesthetically vibrant salad with fresh flavors of tomato varieties, complemented with the creaminess of burrata and a roasted tomato dressing.
This time of year, heirloom tomatoes are in full bloom. They are usually available from the summer till the early fall. We live in Texas so it gets warm here pretty quick, and right now you’ll see a huge variety of tomatoes, so naturally for you foodies out there, a caprese salad with mozzarella immediately comes to mind.
I love this dish because there are so many interpretations and ways to showcase your style and creativity when it comes to presentation.
What is a caprese salad?
Caprese salad is an aesthetically vibrant salad traditionally made with tomatoes, cheese and fresh basil leaves. All these ingredients combined, topped with healthy oils, full of aromatic flavors become a mouth watering experience for your palate.
I made one over the weekend but used burrata instead of mozzarella and took advantage of the heirloom tomatoes in reds, yellows, greens and organic plum colors. These tomatoes aren’t available year-round like their fellow hybrid tomatoes. So you want to make the most of it being in season.
Why heirloom tomatoes?
One of the best things about heirloom tomatoes is that you don’t need to do much to make them taste great. Just a pinch of salt, a dash of pepper and drizzle of dressing. They are just naturally full of flavor.
Are they better than regular tomatoes? While taste is personal, you can argue that heirloom tomatoes are tastier, just think about where they come from: the seeds of heirloom tomatoes are passed down from season to season by generations of farmers…thus the term, “heirloom”.
If you’re looking for the best flavor and juiciest texture in your heirloom tomatoes, store them on the counter at room temperature rather than in the fridge. You also want to consume them pretty quickly. They have a shorter shelf life than your regular hybrid tomatoes.
What’s the difference between burrata cheese and mozzarella?
Burrata and mozzarella are two types of Italian cheese that look very similar. The main difference between the two is that burrata is made with soft cheese curds mixed with cream, while mozzarella is not. Burrata is also usually served as is, rather than being used in dishes like pizza or lasagna.
If you’re looking for cheese to add to a salad or to enjoy with bread, burrata is a great option. It is softer and more flavorful but also due to the cream, it is higher in calories.
Summer is the best time to enjoy this heirloom caprese salad as your family’s snack, or as a starter or appetizer.
Caprese Salad Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you need to make this caprese salad recipe:
- Burrata. Make sure you have it at room temperature. Take it from your refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Don’t buy it too far in advance because it is best consumed within a couple of days, with its short shelf life.
- Heirloom tomatoes. There are no two identical tomatoes. Have fun with the organic shapes, colors and varieties: red, green, yellow, purple and on the vine.
- Olive oil. Extra virgin is the way to go. I like Spanish or Greek.
- Fresh basil. We always keep fresh basil at home as it is one of the easiest ways to throw some freshness to dishes and yes, even our cocktails
- Reduced balsamic. You can either make at home or buy the balsamic glaze which you can use from steak to ice cream.
- Roasted tomato vinaigrette.(homemade recipe below)
- Macha chili oil. This is not a typo. This isn’t green tea matcha. For a bit of heat. (Available at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods – very popular right now)
- Salt. Kosher salt or sea salt. We don’t keep iodized salt in our pantry.
- Pepper. Freshly cracked always. Keep a pepper mill at home. It’s one of the best kitchen tools you’ll ever invest in.
- Toast Points. Brioche loaf/sourdough, baguette, focaccia, ciabatta. What’s your favorite? Use what you like. Cut into strips and toast. In that order. So that it can hold its shape.
You can find the ingredient list and full recipe for the homemade roasted tomato vinaigrette below.
Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette Ingredients
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3 tbs sun dried tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove
- Salt & pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette Recipe
- Place tomatoes in a pan over medium to low heat with only a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Cook until it starts to blister.
- Transfer to a blender and add the sun dried tomatoes, garlic and make a smooth paste.
- While blending, add the olive oil. Keep blending until it has no lumps. It must reach a very smooth consistency.
- Store in a jar or a squeeze bottle (my choice for plating and easy storage). This can keep for a week.
Assemble the tomatoes
- Step 1: Slice all the tomatoes in whatever shape or size which pleases your eyes. Try halves, wedges, slices, quarters.
- Step 2: Spread it on a plate and season them well with salt, pepper and olive oil.
- Step 3: Let it rest for 5 minutes to marinate.
- Step 4: Drain the burrata and season with salt pepper and olive oil. Leave them to set.
Plating and presentation
We eat with our eyes! Food that looks good is more likely to taste good. This is because presentation plays an important role in how we perceive food. When we see food that looks appetizing, we are more likely to enjoy it. Facts.
It is important to make sure that dishes are not only healthy but also visually appealing. This will ensure that everyone enjoys their meal and gets the nutrients they need. A nod to our picky eaters! We love them.
- So grab a plate of your choice, I would prefer a dinner plate to serve. I like to have a lot of room for the food. This is also a Michelin restaurant trait. Large, white dinner plates set apart the presentation style of five-star restaurants.
- Make some unusual patterns with roasted tomato vinaigrette. You’re the artist here.
- Place the burrata in the center of the plate.
- Assemble the tomatoes according to your interest. Be sure the color mix up looks attractive.
- Drizzle olive oil, chili oil and balsamic reduction.
- Snip off the tiniest basil leaves and garnish to enhance the look.
- Stack the toast points on one side of the burrata, like Jengga.
- Serve immediately to enjoy the fresh flavors.
What goes with a caprese salad?
- This salad is extremely satisfying when served on a large plate with toasted bread on the side.
- For lunch it goes well with crispy breads to grilled meat or roasted chicken breast.
- For dinner, this can be a small appetizer before the main course.
Do’s and don’ts
- Do not store the salad after assembling as the liquid components will leak out.
- Do serve at room temperature to enjoy full flavor
- Do not serve it cold because the oils will harden.
- Don’t refrigerate after assembling the components together.
- Do slice the tomatoes, make the vinaigrette and balsamic reduction beforehand and assemble right before serving.
- Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C, A, K and potassium.
- Tomatoes are linked to better heart and eye health.
- Basils are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and oils. It minimizes the occurrence of cancer, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.
- Extra virgin olive oil is a treasure trove of health benefits as it contains less harmful fats and soothes digestion when topped on salads.
- Burrata is a protein source in and it is jam packed with potassium.
- Another beneficial quality of mozzarella is that it is minimally processed and free of many preservatives.
I’d love to see if you make this delicious caprese at home. I’m sure your entire family with delight in your presentation and the flavors exploding in their palate. Tag me on Instagram: @chef.rafael.gonzalez and follow along for more inspiration. Facebook is more your thing? That’s okay, you can find me there too @Chef Rafael Gonzalez.
Hungry for more?
If you want to make a few more restaurant-style recipes from home, grab my FREE gourmet recipes that you can actually make with your kid or teen at home, featuring salmon, steak and pot de creme, some of the most popular hotel and restaurant menu items we’ve all come to love. Now you can make it at home!