Caprese salad is a delicious way to use garden fresh ingredients like tomato and basil paired with fresh mozzarella. This Italian classic is a staple summer salad or appetizer.
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One of the ways I have found to get kids excited to try new foods is to grow our own little garden. With just a few containers or a small garden plot, you can grow a variety of herbs and easy vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers.
There is something magical about growing your own food and it is a low-key way to build positive food interactions with kids. They can help tend to the plants, pick them, and prep them. Eating the foods that you have grown is very satisfying!
Where is caprese salad from?
Caprese salad, or insalata caprese meaning “salad of Capri” in Italian, is said to have originated in the Capri, which is an island located in the southern part of the Campania region.
It is a simple salad made with fresh mozzarella, firm ripe tomatoes, and torn basil, seasoned with salt and black pepper, and drizzled with olive oil or balsamic vinegar. The colors of the dish are reminiscent of the Italian flag. My version is tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette instead of drizzled with olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
Fresh and high quality ingredients are the key to this incredibly simple salad.
- black pepper
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- fresh mozzarella
Fresh mozzarella is a must. Unlike the shredded mozzarella you might use for pizzas, fresh mozzarella is a soft cheese that melts in the mouth. For this recipe I used bocconcini but you could also use slices from a large ball of mozzarella.
For best results, choose firm ripe tomatoes that are about the same size as your mozzarella. If you use a large mozzarella ball, use large tomatoes. I love using heirloom tomatoes when we have them. The bocconcini are ideal for cherry tomatoes.
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Often the mozzarella balls will come packaged with a liquid. Drain them before lightly patting them dry with the towel.
Rinse the tomatoes and pat them dry before cutting.
Top tips for cooking with kids
Tomatoes are best cut with a sharp knife to prevent squishing. If a child is doing the cutting, using a cutting glove can help provide some peace of mind for nervous parents.
Kid safe scissors are ideal for cutting basil leaves into little ribbons. This is a perfect chance for preschool kids to develop those scissors skills.
See here for more tips on cooking with kids!
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- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes room temperature
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese ball “pearls” also called bocconcini, room temperature
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 Tablespoon good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- Rinse the tomatoes and drain the mozzarella balls. Gently dry both with a paper towel.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and tear the basil or cut into ribbons.
- Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, oil, honey, salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl.
- Gently stir in the tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and torn basil.
- Serve immediately.