Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad (Insalata Caprese)

A simple but effective salad from Italy comes in the form of an Insalata Caprese (a tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad)  which literally means ‘the salad from Capri’. It is the perfect starter for a spring and summer dinner and so easy to prepare. 

The salad was invented in the 1950s at the Trattoria da Vincenzo for regulars out for a light lunch. The best quality tomatoes and cheese must be used otherwise it loses flavour rather too quickly especially in a hot sun. Buffalo mozarella is the best cheese for this type of salad dish. We’ve tried vegan cheeses but they simply cannot give you that classic texture – best to accept it for another type of dish! 

Dress with a high quality olive oil but never with any vinegar based dressing as this ruins the delicate cheese flavour. You can however lift it further with a basil pesto to truly release the flavour of this herb and bring the Italian Mediterranean alive.

Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.


Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 lbs vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 lb fresh Buffalo mozzarella, sliced1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil or rocket/arugula leaves, washed well and spun dry in a rotating salad washer or just in a colander
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled in, if using rocket/arugula instead of basil
  • fine sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


On a large platter arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Sprinkle salad with oregano and arugula and drizzle with oil. Season salad with salt and pepper.

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