Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Even though school is already back in session in Colorado, I can’t let the last weeks of summer slip by without sharing one of my favorite summer salad staples: caprese salad with balsamic reduction!

Caprese is made with fresh mozzarella, juicy summer tomatoes, fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil.  With a rustic loaf of bread, this salad is satisfying enough to count as a weeknight dinner.  I’ve been making caprese salad for many years, but it’s been refined through lots of trial and error.  

What sets this one apart from your average caprese salad?

Balsamic glaze or reduction – A drizzle of shiny balsamic reduction or glaze, with its concentration of flavor, far exceeds the look and taste of plain balsamic vinegar. It’s worth the extra step to make it (or the money to buy it), believe me! 

Freshly-ground coarse pepper – Turn your pepper grinder to the most-coarse setting and be generous! This gives the salad a bit of spice and accents the acidity of the tomatoes and the sweetness of the vinegar glaze.

Garden-fresh tomatoes – Pick some up at a farmer’s market or select a few heirloom tomatoes from the store if your grocery is well stocked.  This will be obvious when you cut into a garden fresh summer tomato, but the color and taste is far superior to those white-centered off-season versions available at other times of the year. My stepmom and Aunt grew these beauties!

Here’s how to make the Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction:

You’ll need:

3 large tomatoes
16 ounces fresh mozzarella
¼ teaspoon sea salt (or other coarse salt)
¼ teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper
10-16 large basil leaves, sliced thinly into a chiffonade, plus a few small leaves for garnish
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (may not use all of it)
1/4 cup balsamic reduction/glaze (may not use all of it; recipe below, or use store-bought, like this one)

  1. Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into similar-sized slices (somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch).
  2. Arrange tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on a platter, alternating between tomato and mozzarella.
  3. Drizzle balsamic reduction and olive oil on top of tomatoes and mozzarella. Get swirly and have some fun! ;0)
  4. Sprinkle plenty of sea salt and coarse black pepper on top.
  5. Top with thinly-sliced basil and small basil leaves garnish (if desired).
  6. Enjoy!

Balsamic Reduction (Glaze):

  1. Bring vinegar to boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sugar and stir into vinegar. Lower heat to medium and continue boiling (do not stir at this point) until it’s reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 5-8 minutes. It should be about the consistency maple syrup. It will continue to thicken as it cools and become caramely and slightly sticky. If it cools and is too thick, you can always thin it out by adding a little more vinegar, 1 teaspoon at a time, and whisking well. 
  3. Cool completely before using.
balsamic reduction

Looking for another tasty summer salad? Try this Spicy Banh Mi Chicken & Quinoa Salad or this Lemony Quinoa Salad with Almonds & Dried Cherries.

plated caprese salad

Caprese Salad

Summer staple! Juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella + balsamic glaze & garden basil.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: caprese, caprese salad, insalata caprese, tomato salad
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 16 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt or other coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground coarse pepper
  • 10-16 large fresh basil leaves plus a few small ones for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil may not use all of this
  • 1/4 cup balsamic reduction/glaze (homemade or store-bought) may not use all of this

Instructions

  • Slice tomatoes and mozzarella into similar-sized slices (somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch).
  • Arrange tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on a platter, alternating between tomato and mozzarella.
  • Drizzle balsamic reduction and olive oil on top of tomatoes and mozzarella. Get swirly and have some fun!
  • Sprinkle plenty of sea salt and coarse black pepper on top.
  • Top with thinly-sliced basil and small basil leaves garnish (if desired).
  • Enjoy!

Balsamic Reduction (Glaze)

You won't believe how easy this two-ingredient money-saver is. A must-have for caprese salad!
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Salad, salad dressing
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: balsamic glaze, balsamic reduction
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Instructions

  • Bring vinegar to boil over medium-high heat.
  • Add sugar and stir into vinegar. Lower heat to medium and continue boiling (do not stir at this point) until it’s reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 5-8 minutes. It should be about the consistency maple syrup. It will continue to thicken as it cools and become caramely and slightly sticky. If it cools and is too thick, you can always thin it out by adding a little more vinegar, 1 teaspoon at a time, and whisking well. 
  • Cool completely before using.


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