For me, a Caprese salad is such a perfect summer classic. Lovely ripe tomatoes where you can almost taste the sun, fresh basil, delicious creamy mozzarella and a sweet acidic mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. It’s also incredibly easy to throw together when you’re feeling lazy after a hot day and is filling enough to be satisfying. So I just tend to make sure I have those ingredients in the house.
Now I had a friend come over last week at short notice and I was pretty short on anything expect my lazy salad ingredients. I’d had a pretty delicious Caprese salad a while back at a restaurant which had seeds in it and it made real difference, so I thought I’d experiment with some sunflower seeds. Once you toast these, they release this lovely nutty flavour that suddenly turns this simple classic dish into something a bit more special. It was so tasty actually that I’ve already made it again since then! The classic Caprese salad I believe doesn’t tend to use salad leaves as well, but as a main meal I think it needs them to bulk it out – for a starter you’d be fine without though. You’ll want a few more basil leaves if your not going for salad leaves as well. I made enough to serve two but please feel free to improvise!
– Half a bag of mixed salad leaves, I used a ‘peppery’ mix here but babyleaf also goes really well
– A large handful of ripe cherry tomatoes (I used sugar drop ones here, pomodorino or any kind of vine ripened cherry tomatoes are also particularly tasty), or around 100g, quartered
– 150g mozzarella (check its vegetarian if you want to make it veggie)
– Around 5 fresh basil leaves, roughly shredded
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 2 heaped tbsp sunflower seeds
How to make it…
1. Layer up the salad by starting with the salad leaves, adding the tomatoes and then shredding mozzarella over the top.
2. In a frying pan with no oil, toast the sunflower seeds for around 4-5 minutes or until they start to brown and become fragrant.
3. Take the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and stir these together to make the dressing.
4. When you’re ready to serve, add the salad dressing and the sunflower seeds.