Summer is the season for tomatoes! These Caprese Salad Stacks use farmer’s market ingredients – summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil – to create a simple yet delicious salad.
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This salad was inspired by a Saturday morning trip I took to the Green City Farmer’s Market in Chicago several years ago. The market is the perfect spot to spend a warm spring or summer morning.
The Green City Market is a beautiful farmer’s market that happens every Saturday from May through October in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Like most farmer’s markets, this market features local farmers and producers. Going to your local farmer’s market is a great way to spend a Saturday morning! I love to go pick up some fresh fruits and veggies for some of the recipes I’m working on. In addition to great fresh veggies, many have a nice selection of bread, cheeses, meats, and eggs.
Caprese salad is one of my favorite summer salads, so when I’m at the farmer’s market I try to grab some nice fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. If you are not growing it at home, grab some basil too!
How to make stacked Caprese Salad
The real key to a great Caprese salad is using fresh, in-season tomatoes and high-quality mozzarella. Instead of just using basil leaves, I use pesto to give it a little more zing.
Including the time to make the pesto, this salad really only takes a few minutes to pull together.
Make the pesto: I always recommend making your own pesto. It only takes a few minutes and you can make a double, or triple batch and freeze the leftovers.
Assemble the stacks. All you are doing here is laying slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella. Ideally, the mozzarella slices are about the same diameter as the tomato so you may have to trim them down accordingly.
Add the toppings. Top each stack with some thin slices of avocado and a spoonful of pesto. Drizzle on some balsamic glaze and a bit of olive oil. Top with freshly ground pepper.
A note about the ingredients
- Roma tomatoes: Ideally fresh from your garden or the farmer’s market but grocery store tomatoes are just fine. You can also use a different variety if that happens to be what you are growing.
- Fresh mozzarella: For this recipe, you want a large ball or log of fresh mozzarella that you can cut into thick slices.
- Basil pesto: I recommend making pesto from scratch but you can substitute store-bought if you prefer.
- Olive oil: Since you are just drizzling it on, use the highest quality olive oil you have on hand.
- Balsamic Glaze: You can find balsamic glaze at most grocery stores or order it online (see link below). I highly recommend investing in a high-quality bottle, as it is a wonderful addition to salads, veggies, and many other things!
What goes with a caprese salad?
Caprese salad is a traditional Italian dish so it goes well with other Italian food. But since it’s also a salad you can serve it with just about anything to make a nice meal.
If you want to make it part of a snack-type dinner try serving it with this Antipasto Platter.
things you might want for this recipe
Balsamic Glaze – There are a lot of different options for a balsamic glaze but this Nonna Pia’s glaze is my current favorite. I have also found this brand at Whole Foods.
Food processor – Pesto is best made with a food processor, not a blender. It gives you better consistency.
Stacked Caprese Salad
For the pesto:
- 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, packed
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- ⅓ cup olive oil
For the salad:
- 3 large plum tomatoes, thickly sliced
- half an avocado, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- balsamic glaze, to taste
- cracked pepper, to taste
- olive oil, to taste
- Make the pesto: Add the basil, garlic and pine nuts to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a standard metal blade. Pulse several times until the basil is chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and continue to process until combined. Scrape down the sides again.
- Assemble the stacks: To assemble the salad, place two tomato slices on a plate, top with a slice of mozzarella. Continue until you have used up half of the tomato slices. Repeat to make four stacks.
- Add the toppings: Top each stack with avocado slices, basil pesto and cracked pepper. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze.
Green City Market is located at the south end of Chicago’s Lincoln Park – approximately 1871 N. Clark Street. For more information visit their website.
This post was originally published in June 2015. It was updated in August 2020 with some new images and information. No changes have been made to the original recipe.