Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The real caprese salad

It should be easy enough to get right; the classic Italian caprese salad is simply made with sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil. Yet outside of Italy, so many enthusiastic chefs get it wrong. 
It’s not the preparation that’s a problem. After all, anyone can serve mozzarella and seasoned tomatoes on whole basil leaves. The problem comes when eager chefs try to add things to it. Avocados, nuts, chicken, peppers, pesto, they’re all great Italian ingredients, but they don’t belong in a caprese salad. 
The dish originally came from the island of Capri, where it was served to the aristocracy in the early 20th century. News of good food travels fast, and it was soon making an appearance all over Italy, replacing the original cacao cheese in the recipe for mozzarella. 
There’s no rule on the type of mozzarella you can use. But whether it’s a light fiordilate or the hearty buffalo mozzarella, the only guide is that there should be lots of it! After all, with such a simple dish, the cheese is destined to be the star of the show.