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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Caprese Salad Recipe

When tomato and fresh basil is THIS good, I hate to do anything other than enjoy it fresh in a salad. My Basil Vinaigrette is simple to make, takes 5 minutes in a blender. You’ll love it. I promise.

First, the Basil Vinaigrette ingredients: fresh basil leaves, shallots (substitute with onion or garlic), sea salt, a couple slices of fresh chili pepper, good olive oil and a vinegar.


First you gotta chop up the shallots (or substitute with onion or garlic) and the pepper in the blender.


Next goes in the torn basil leaves, salt, vinegar and 2 tablespoons of water. You need that liquid to get things moving in the blender.


Let that baby whirl while you slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Look at that gorgeous mossy green!


Once it calms down a bit, the color turns bright vivid green.


The makings of a Caprese Salad.


Wait. Another beauty shot of the tomato.

Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Since I’m stacking this Caprese Salad up, I want to make sure that the bottom layer (which uses the bottom of the tomato) is flat — so that the whole stack doesn’t fall over. So lop off the round butt of the tomato so that it has a flat ass to sit on.


Start stacking and layering your Caprese Salad!


Lastly…drizzle the Basil Vinaigrette over your Caprese Salad.


Love that drizzle action!

Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette Recipe

serves 4 as first course

4 large tomatoes, sliced into thick slices
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced into thick slices
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the Basil Vinaigrette
1 small shallot, roughly chopped (substitute with 1 tablespoon chopped onion or 1 garlic clove)
2 slices fresh chili pepper
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt (1/2 tsp table salt)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. To make the Basil Vinaigrette, add the shallot and chili pepper to the blender. Next add the basil leaves, water, vinegar and sea salt. Blend. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you are blending.

2. To assemble the Caprese Salad, layer the tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. In between each layer, season with a bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle the basil vinaigrette on top.

Store extra basil vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

This is summer fest!


Summer Fest 2009 is a four-week, cross-blog celebration co-created (alphabetically listed) by A Way to Garden, Matt Armendariz of Mattbites, Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, and Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple, with guest appearances from Shauna and Daniel Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl, Simmer Till Done’s Marilyn Pollack Naron, and Paige Smith Orloff of The Sister Project.’ And from you that’s critical. Your contributions are desired, and needed.

Will you play along? Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting today, with the subject of herbs, you can contribute in various ways, big or small. Contribute a whole post, or a comment, whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:

Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.

The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.

Or think bigger: Publish entire entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2009 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites).

Summer Fest 2009 Schedule:

  • Tuesday, August 18: TOMATO WEEK. How do you like them love apples? (this week!)

What did my co-hosts make for the Summer Fest Party?

simmer-till-done-tomato-bread Simmer Till Done Made a Savory Upside Down Tomato Basil Bread

matt-bites-tomatoes-ten-ways Matt Bites does Tomatoes 10 Ways

away-to-garden-frozen-sauce Away to Garden shows us her Quick Tomato Sauce Ever So Slowly

white-on-rice-tomato-jam-recipe White on Rice tells us about their kiddie tomato thieves and makes Tomato Jam!

sister-project What a cute little girl! Paige from The Sister Project makes Curried Carrot and Tomato Soup

smoked-tomato-salsa-glutenfreegirl Gluten Free Girl makes Smoked Tomato Salsa

73 Responses to “Caprese Salad with Basil Vinaigrette”

  1. Kristina — 8/18/09 @ 12:06 pm

    I agree – when you’ve got a fresh summer tomato, it almost seems wrong to do too much to them. Here’s my entry for this week – my favorite ways to use raw tomatoes:

  2. Love how you stacked the salad! Like you, I kept it simple. Then the tomatoes are at their prime, they don’t need much help.

    Here’s my final entry. Wish this Fest lasted longer!

  3. Chef Gwen — 8/18/09 @ 12:43 pm

    Your photos are simply breathtaking. Gorgeous.

  4. The Duo Dishes — 8/18/09 @ 12:55 pm

    Wish we had a garden to grow fresh fruits and veggies. Oh, to have a proper house. :)

  5. Maryann — 8/18/09 @ 1:59 pm

    This looks delicious. Can’t wait to try the vinagrette. Like you we have alot of basil growing. Would like to try this with some lime basil. Just added this to the garden this year and are quite impressed with the taste. It really tastes like lime!

  6. MollyCookie — 8/18/09 @ 2:29 pm

    That looks really wonderful. My parents have an abundance of basil growing in their back yard right now and this looks like a great way to use some. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Jen H — 8/18/09 @ 2:33 pm

    What a gorgeously perfect caprese!

    I went with a tomato and cheese dish too, with my Roasted Tomato and Cheddar Tart:


  8. Wish I had heard about this earlier, LOVE the whole idea and can’t wait to whip up that vinaigrette! Here’s a post I did on herb ideas. Hope it fits well.

  9. The Cooking Bride — 8/18/09 @ 2:42 pm

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!! This is one of my FAVORITE things to eat! I have a few tomatoes growing, but they have been a little scrawny. I am like you though, my basil plants are huge.

  10. Chris Mower — 8/18/09 @ 2:59 pm

    Oh my gosh! This recipe looks so good (your photos are amazing) and looks rather simple to make as well. I’m excited to give it a try.

  11. darya — 8/18/09 @ 3:11 pm

    Winter tomatoes?? Hmmmmm.


    That basil vinaigrette sounds amazing. I’m so there!

    My tip today is how to get delicate tomatoes home from the farmers market without squishing them:


  12. Lorene — 8/18/09 @ 3:18 pm

    Gorgeous Photos!!! I want to take a bath in the Basil vinaigrette! Planting tomatoes for winter…here in Seattle we can only dream of such shenanigans. Here’s my take on savoring our unseasonably warm summer and its resulting tomato bounty! http://plantedathome.com/blog/2009/08/18/pacific-northwest-tomatoes/

  13. Love that shot of the water going in.

    My summer fest contribution is all about how I reclaimed cold summer soups after the vichyssoise catastrophes of my youth. If I’d had some of your pesto I could have swirled it in and made it palatable.

    Here’s my contribution:


    Thanks for organizing this gathering.

  14. I had to laugh when I saw your caprese salad as I did almost exactly the same thing with the exception being that I tried to stack cherry tomatoes with boconcini’s (or whatever those little mozarella thingies are called) and then I ended up making it into a sandwich…. DE_LI_CI_OUS!!!

  15. This looks amazing, I’ve making a caprese salad with my slow-roasted tomatoes.
    Slow-roasted tomatoes are my favorite. Sometimes I add them to pesto, sometimes I eat them w/ mozzarella and drizzled with olive oil and basil. Other times I add them to pasta as a “sauce” because the flavor is so intense! I also bake them w/ zucchini. Happy Summer Fest!



  16. Tina — 8/18/09 @ 4:32 pm

    Well, dinner tonight was going to be salmon marinated in an orange/ginger/garlic marinade. However, I think the new plan will be to marinate the salmon in the basil vinaigrette, grill it and serve with chopped tomatoes and more vinaigrette! I absolutely love tomatoes and basil together.

  17. Gavan — 8/18/09 @ 5:05 pm

    REALLY pretty photo. You can’t beat simple delicious recipes. Fabulouso.

  18. Gavan — 8/18/09 @ 5:07 pm

    BTW I made some varieties of ketchup for the final week

  19. Diana — 8/18/09 @ 5:13 pm

    Holy stack of tomatoes and cheese! You combined some of my favorite ingredients for this recipe. Love it!

    I’m a week behind you guys for tomato posting, next week I’m posting slow roasted tomatoes and some delicious recipes to use them in like pastas and salads. But I do have some older yummy ones, like parmesan crusted tomato slices.

  20. Gaby — 8/18/09 @ 5:18 pm

    that salad looks absolutely mouthwatering – I had to refrain from licking my computer screen! Oh and that basil… AMAZING!

  21. Ozoz — 8/18/09 @ 5:24 pm

    Yum, yum, yum in my tum. Need I say more?

  22. I have Earthboxes too! I love them. We use them in addition to the raised beds and I have to say, the stuff growing in my Earthboxes is 3x bigger than the stuff in the ground. I can’t say enough good things about them. It’s funny to think that you don’t plant yours until Fall.I always think everyone goes through the 4 seasons like we do.

  23. oooh…that looks so good and refreshing. we will be eating salads for a long time coming here in texas…at least several months! thanks for co-hosting summer fest-i really had a blast participating. here’s my tomato offering:


  24. Kim — 8/18/09 @ 6:35 pm

    That vinaigrette looks amazing. Just last week I made this salad, just drizzled with olive oil, red wine vinegar, s/p. The fam ate it right up. I’ll definitely do the vinaigrette next time!

  25. Oh, that’s my favorite dish of summer, stacked up lovely! You kept things cool and easy. And smart. Now I need a beautiful caprese to go with my tomato bread. Nice job, Jaden!

  26. Lindsay — 8/18/09 @ 7:20 pm

    I think I could live off of heirloom tomatoes…

    We’ve been cooking a lot of them lately, but this recipe really stood out:
    Panzanella, with fresh local heirloom tomatoes, basil, and cucumber, it’s like summer on a slice of bread. Yum!

  27. Divina — 8/18/09 @ 8:37 pm

    It’s gorgeous, stunning and mouth-watering.

  28. Kim M. — 8/18/09 @ 9:36 pm

    Wow…this looks like a jazzed up version of caprese salad! I can’t wait to try it!

    Thanks for sharing it with us!

  29. Dana McCauley — 8/18/09 @ 9:59 pm

    Very beautiful!

  30. Amazing photo series! I want to go plant some tomatoes now! Okay, maybe for next year :)

  31. yasmin — 8/18/09 @ 11:07 pm

    so tomato season is not lost for you, jaden! you’re very lucky. in the northeast, we’re pretty much accepting our fate…which is why i chose this recipe to share.

    this year, with tomato season being less than perfect, i think this is the recipe i’d like to submit for summerfest. it coaxes the best out of even less than perfect tomatoes with a little trick–a quick vinegar soak.


  32. Julie — 8/19/09 @ 12:41 am

    What a totally brilliant way to serve Caprese salad! You are a tomato genius! The photos are stunning. As is that dressing! It looks like it would do just fine as a shooter – straight up!

    I made a roasted cherry tomato clafoutis – http://tinyurl.com/q3jedo – but my very favourite tomato thing this year was a roasted Roma tomato and goat cheese Tarte Tatin. Bliss! http://tinyurl.com/q7spcy

  33. Rosy — 8/19/09 @ 5:15 am

    Mmmm, that looks sooooo good – normally I just do a caprese with a drizzle of oil but that vivid green dressing is just stunning! Amazing pics as always. My tomato season is just kicking off here in the UK – no hot summer for us this year! But the tomatoes are just starting to rippen so I’m storing up all these yummy tomato recipes for the inevitable glut in a week or two’s time! http://www.rosylipsandlavender.com/2009/08/summer-fest-tomatoes.html#comments

    • SteamyKitchen — 8/19/09 @ 8:43 am

      sometimes I do just sea salt and olive oil, but it’s so nice to have that tang and brightness in the vinaigrette

  34. Big boys Oven — 8/19/09 @ 8:03 am

    Just awesomely, the red devil in play! lol! ;)

  35. Liz — 8/19/09 @ 8:38 am

    Love the sliced tomato glamour shot series, and seriously jealous of the garden. I’m not letting my two tomatoes plants know there’s more to life than my tiny Brooklyn patio!

    However, they’re happily popping out more tomatoes than I can eat as it is, in spite of the blight. Last weekend, I used the cherry tomatoes in a caramelized tomato tart:


  36. Asianmommy — 8/19/09 @ 12:03 pm

    Very pretty!

  37. Cookin Canuck — 8/19/09 @ 1:02 pm

    What a gorgeous tomato! And that vinaigrette looks fabulous. I agree with you – all I want to do with a sweet summer tomato is pair it with some fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and great olive oil. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

  38. Simple & delicious! Perfect time to eat tomatoes!

  39. Sally — 8/19/09 @ 5:42 pm

    Your photos are amazing. A delicious scrolling and drooling experience !

    I’ve been putting the oven on low, popping in the tomatoes and just waiting a couple of hours for that summer flavour to intensify.
    I’m sure I could use them in so many dishes but I think I’ll just eat one, and then another …..until the inevitable !


  40. Alta — 8/19/09 @ 7:36 pm

    I SO should make this. I have an s-load of basil in my garden right now. No tomatoes to speak of, I have a big tomato plant that gives me like one cherry tomato a week. Oh well.

    I happen to have a tomato recipe this week! (all the other weeks of Summer Fest, I’ve been making the wrong dishes at the wrong time…pear jam the week AFTER fruits from trees week, etc.) Check it out, a summer succotash, using some ripe juicy local tomatoes that I picked up at the farmer’s market. http://tastyeatsathome.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/summer-succotash/

  41. joey — 8/19/09 @ 10:46 pm

    What a wonderful coincidence! I just finished a series of tomato salads on my blog so I can join in on the summer festivities! Here are my 3 favorite tomato salads:

    Glad to celebrate tomatoes with you all! :)

  42. It’s funny, because we were making this for a while in the winter–making winter/canned tomatoes taste good by roasting them with olive oil first (http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/2009/03/potluck-parties-magazine-club-marchthe.html), but I’ve completely neglected to make caprese since summer started!


  43. Jeff — 8/20/09 @ 8:55 am

    Oh Jaden how I pity you and your poor 80 degree winters. hehehe Our summer here has been so messed up my poor garden is going uhh…wtf is going on because one day it is 90 and the next day it is 70s. Although my tomato plants that have survived fungus death are producing faster than I can grab them.

    Although my basil is threatening taking over the whole garden (last I checked it was creeping into tarragon’s territory and tarragon was looking at parsley for support).

    Nicely done and love the vinaigrette.

  44. Jennifer — 8/20/09 @ 11:44 am

    Mouthwatering pics as usual. I was on a similar flavor wavelength a few weeks ago when I made Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad). What’s better than tomatoes, basil and mozzarella? Great use for day-old bread too.


  45. shauna — 8/20/09 @ 12:35 pm

    These colors are amazing! You have sold me on this salad, that’s for sure. (and I love the flast-ass comment.)

  46. John — 8/20/09 @ 3:57 pm

    Great descriptions and inspiring photos. Wow, that really looks good. Makes me feel guilty for just tossing the tomatoes in with all the other veggies & herbs which is what happens on most nights…

  47. Fuji Mama — 8/20/09 @ 7:27 pm

    Caprese salad is one of my all-time faves! To me, tomato, masil, and mozarella make up the ultimate summer trifecta. I’ve got 2 different kinds of basil growing in my garden and I think I need to test out you vinaigrette recipe with both and compare!

  48. Sues — 8/20/09 @ 10:03 pm

    I really don’t think there’s anything better than fresh basil. I LOVE the idea of making it into a nice dressing. Your towers look sooo pretty!

  49. Kristina — 8/20/09 @ 11:26 pm

    Beautiful photos, as usual Jaden.
    I make a pesto vinaigrette as my “house” dressing all the time. I like the idea of adding a bit of chili to it. I’ll have to try it.

    I’m a bit late to the party with my one and only Summer Fest entry, but I just put up a basics” post on my blog about “How to Peel and Seed Fresh Tomatoes.” I had some “ugly” tomatoes at the end and the best thing to do was peel them.

  50. Gillian — 8/21/09 @ 6:45 pm

    My first ever blog post, and it’s about tomatoes. In tomato week. Go figure.


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