Caprese Salad with Pesto Oil

Caprese Salad with Pesto Oil

Drum roll-trumpet fanfare! Michigan tomatoes, in all of their glory, are heralding their return on backyard vines and market stands across town.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate their arrival than with an Insalata Caprese (tomato and fresh mozzarella salad) served with a loaf of freshly baked artisan bread.

Caprese Salads are one of my quintessential “no-recipe recipes”. “Summertime” is the first ingredient on  the recipe list-that’s when local tomatoes and freshly grown basil are at their peak of flavor.  Make sure you use a full-flavored extra virgin olive oil. I prefer using locally made fresh Serra or Zingerman’s mozzarella.

My “Lemon Boy” tomatoes are at their backyard peak and fresh basil is abundant in my kitchen garden. I purchased my red tomatoes from the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. When my cherry tomatoes ripen, I will pair them with the smaller fresh cherry mozzarella  balls, leaving both whole, in a balsamic vinaigrette.

I included my recipe for tonight but it will change In a couple of weeks with the arrival of the fancifully shaped and colorful Heirloom German Tomatoes. I may garnish that platter with capers.  Whimsy is what makes each Insalata Caprese Salad a unique palate of color with summertime flavor.

Recipe: Caprese Salad with Pesto Oil


  • 2 Michigan grown ripe red tomatoes, sliced then halved*
  • 2 Michigan grown ripe yellow tomatoes,sliced then halved*
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 1, 8-ounce fresh mozzerella ball, sliced then halved
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto


  1. Lightly sprinkle tomato slices with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Select a large platter or individual serving dishes. In a circular design alternate and overlap mozzarella slices with sliced tomatoes and basil.
  2. Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Sprinkle capers over the top.
  3. Combine olive oil with pesto and spoon over top.

* My tomatoes were large so I cut them in half for easier serving, though it’s not necessary.

Time: 15 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4

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