This cherry tomato and mozzarella salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette is vibrant, healthy and full of bright, fresh flavors. It's a delicious caprese salad made with lots of fresh basil and balsamic vinegar.
Colorful cherry tomatoes are paired with fresh mozzarella pearls, torn basil leaves and rich and tangy oven-roasted tomato and white balsamic vinaigrette. It's a classic caprese salad recipe paired with our favorite Summer dressing.
For another lovely Summer salad, try our Peach Panzanella with sourdough croutons, ripe peaches, tomatoes, corn and basil.
This easy caprese salad recipe calls for a handful of simple, fresh ingredients. Here's what you'll need:
- Cherry or Grape Tomatoes - Our version of the traditional caprese salad uses bite-sized tomatoes. You can use any color of ripe cherry tomatoes, just look for firm, shiny tomatoes in the peak of their growing season.
- Fresh Mozzarella - We like to use the teeny, mini mozzarella balls, labeled "mozzarella pearls". You could also halve the slightly larger "small mozzarella balls", or dice a regular ball of mozzarella into smaller pieces.
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- White Balsamic Vinegar - You can use regular balsamic vinegar, too. Personally, we prefer using white balsamic in this dressing because it is slightly less-sweet and preserves the roasted tomatoes' vibrant coloring.
- Garlic, Thyme, Red Pepper Flakes, Salt & Black Pepper - To season the roasted tomato vinaigrette
- Balsamic Glaze - Optional, but soo good! You can buy yours pre-made in the grocery store, or check out our easy recipe:
Balsamic Glaze is an easy, 1 ingredient recipe that can add a delicious, elegant drizzle to countless sweet & savory creations!
Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
This simple salad recipe is elevated by an Oven Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette. This dressing is sweet, tangy and bursting rich rich, roasted tomato flavor. It really takes the caprese to the next level and it's great on simple romaine salads, too.
The oven roasted tomatoes are super simple and require little effort but, they do require a lot of time in the oven. While it may seem daunting on a hot Summer day, I promise it will be worth it! The slow roasting will bring out all of the tomatoes' umami and best flavors!! Here's what you do:
1. First, I like to cut all of my cherry (or grape) tomatoes in half. Then, toss the sliced tomatoes, garlic and thyme in a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Pro Tip: How To Cut Cherry Tomatoes Efficiently- To quickly halve several tomatoes at once, use two same-sized plastic lids. Place the first lid down, rim-side-up on your cutting board. Fill the lid's rim with your cherry (or grape) tomatoes. Then, place the second lid rim-side-down, over the tomatoes. Hold the top lid in place with your palm and, using a serrated knife, gently saw through the tomatoes between the two lids. Voila! A dozen or more perfectly halved tomatoes in seconds!
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Continued...
2. Then, transfer everything to a parchment lined baking sheet. I like to arrange the tomatoes cut-side up, to allow the steam to escape more easily and make the process a little quicker.
3. Next, all you have to do is roast the fresh tomatoes low and slow until most of their moisture has evaporated and you are left with chewy, candy-like tomatoes and roasted garlic cloves! Most cherry tomatoes will roast in about 1 - 2 hours, depending on their moisture content. After roasting, you are ready to make the vinaigrette!
Aside from being delicious in this Cherry Tomato Caprese - these roasted tomatoes are delicious straight off the baking sheet, in pasta salad or as a simple side dish. To learn how to preserve these roasted tomatoes and see some of our other favorite serving suggestions, check out our full Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes post.
How To Make Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette
Now, to make the roasted cherry tomatoes into the caprese dressing, here's what you do:
1. Transfer all of the roasted tomatoes and garlic to a jar (or blender). Add the white balsamic vinegar, honey and a pinch of chili flakes, if using. Use an immersion (or standard) blender to pulse the ingredients together. Then, while blending, slowly stream in some good quality olive oil. (If you are using oil-preserved oven roasted tomatoes, you may need to slightly decrease the amount of additional oil added.)
2. Blend the dressing until the tomatoes are pureed but not completely smooth - a bit of texture is nice here. You can add a pinch of salt or black pepper, as needed.
Assembling & Serving
Once the dressing is made, this cherry tomato salad comes together in just a couple more minutes. We recommend assembling this salad right before serving.
1. In a large bowl, combine your fresh cherry tomatoes, small fresh mozzarella balls, and torn basil leaves. Add in about a third, or some of the Roasted Tomato Vinagrette and toss to combine.
Chef's Note: What's The Deal with Hand Torn Basil? - Basil is a delicate herb that bruises and browns very easily. By tearing pieces of basil by hand, as opposed to cutting it with a knife, you can keep the basils' cell walls in tact. Torn basil has a prettier appearance that will brown less quickly.
2. Then, swoosh the remaining vinagrette on the bottom of your serving bowl. Transfer the cherry tomato caprese into the salad bowl, on top of the bed of extra dressing. Garnish with more basil leaves, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and a generous drizzle of sweet balsamic vinegar reduction. Enjoy the vibrant flavors as a healthy side dish or easy Summer dinner.
Cherry tomato caprese is a fabulous, flavorful side or appetizer for lots of Italian recipes and simple Summer meals. Here are a few of our favorite pairings.
- Pasta - This salad pairs perfectly with pastas of all shapes and sizes. Try it with any of our homemade semolina pasta recipes (like our lasagna al forno) or something quick and simple like spaghetti al pesto.
- Steak - I adore spooning this salad over a freshly grilled steak. The roasted tomato dressing adds the perfect acidity. It's phenomenal over something rich and fancy - like our perfectly grilled ribeye, or something simple - like a balsamic marinated flank or skirt steak.
- Honey Balsamic Chicken - This simple grilled recipe pairs perfectly for a light Summer meal.
- Grilled Ciabatta - Serving this salad with some thick slices of warm, olive oil drizzled ciabatta transforms this dish into a memorable build-your-own-bruschetta. Simply divine.
You May Also Like...
Check out some of our other favorite Italian recipes to serve with Cherry Tomato Caprese!
Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad
- 1 Immersion Blender ((or Standard Blender))
Cherry Tomato Caprese
- 1 recipe Oven Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette optional
- 20 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes halved; (2 "pints")
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls or small mozzarella balls, halved
- 1 handful fresh basil large leaves torn
- Flaky finishing salt to taste
- Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Glaze optional, See Note: a.
Oven Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette
- 10 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes halved; (1 "pint")
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- ¼ Cup olive oil extra virgin, divided
- Fine kosher salt* to taste
- Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes optional
Cherry Tomato Caprese
- Gather, measure and prepare the Cherry Tomato Caprese ingredients as listed. In a large bowl combine the halved tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and about half of the basil leaves. Add in ⅓ of the Oven Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette and toss to combine.
- In a serving bowl, swoosh the remaining vinaigrette on the bottom of the dish. Transfer the cherry tomato caprese over the bed of dressing. Finish the salad with the remaining basil leaves, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, cracked black pepper and a drizzle of balsamic glaze, if using. Serve immediately and enjoy.
Oven Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette
- Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 250° Fahrenheit (120° celsius). Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet and arrange the tomatoes cut-side up. Roast the tomatoes for 1½ - 2 hours or until the tomatoes are shriveled and the garlic is roasted.
- Transfer roasted tomatoes and garlic to a glass jar (or blender). Add in white balsamic vinegar, honey and a pinch of chili flake, if using. With an immersion (or standard) blender, pulse the ingredients together. While blending, stream in remaining olive oil until emulsified. Process until the ingredients are combined and the tomatoes are mostly pureed, but not completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- The Oven Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette can be used immediately or refrigerated in an airtight container for 5 - 7 days.
* A Note About Salt
Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on The Sage Apron are developed using Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. It is a great all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. If using table salt, reduce quantities by about half.