Making The Perfect Caprese Salad

Behold the holy trinity of tomato, mozzarella and basil

We should be totally bored of caprese by now, but every year our hearts beat a little faster as tomatoes come into season and we're obsessed all over again with this simple, perfect salad.

You don't need much more than ripe tomatoes, some fresh mozzarella and torn-up fragrant basil finished with a splash of buttery Ligurian olive oil and flaky salt. But we do like to tinker.

Here's how to coax greatness from these fine ingredients:

The tomatoes

They don't have to be red. Mix it up with tiny, tangy Green Zebras or sweet, lumpy, purple Carbons or whatever looks good at the market. For visual interest and differently sized bites, we like to cut them in a mix of rounds and wedges. And don't just salt the tomatoes, dress them in a tomato vinaigrette made from a base of pureed Sun Golds and vinegar-macerated shallots (see the recipe).

The cheese

Swap in luxuriously creamy burrata for the mozzarella. The pure milky flavor and sexy liquid center play nicely with juicy tomatoes. Use your hands to tear the cheese up into big pieces.

The basil

Big, ripped-up leaves of Genovese basil are perfect, but it's nice to complicate things with a few lemon basil and bush basil leaves, too. To build a caprese as fresh and sweet as a stroll through the shaded hills of Capri, consider adding some spearmint and chives, too.