Serving tomatoes at the height of the season plated with fresh mozzarella, good olive oil, sea salt and basil is a no-brainer.
Add an acidic component like balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper, and even the greenest cook can hold down the garde manger station.
So why mess with the tomato mozzarella salad known as caprese? Differentiation.
Chefs can up their game by pairing seasonal tomatoes with other peak produce and swapping out mozzarella for cheeses such as burrata or ricotta.
While the salad originates from Italy (the colors represent the Italian flag) and hails from the country’s southern island of Capri (hence the name, caprese) operators are reinterpreting it for their concept, be it a brewpub or ramen joint. The salad is also venturing beyond antipasti by influencing other menu items (see sidebar).
Even though out-of-season tomatoes have improved in flavor, the diner psyche says summer is still the best time to crush a tomato mozzarella salad. Here are three takes to consider.