Gluten-Free/ Low Carb & Keto/ Salads/ Vegetarian & Vegan

Pesto Caprese Salad

Delicious, fresh and so simple, this Italian pesto caprese salad takes minutes to make. It works wonderfully as a side dish and can be served on it's own as an appetizer. Perfectly refreshing, it's a great addition to so many meals!
Slices of tomato and mozzarella with a pesto drizzle on top.

Last Updated on October 15, 2020 by Betty Davies

Delicious, fresh and so simple, this Italian pesto caprese salad takes minutes to make. It works wonderfully as a side dish and can be served on it’s own as an appetizer. Perfectly refreshing, it’s a great addition to so many meals!

Overhead shot of pesto caprese salad on a white serving plate.

There are some recipes that are so simple but the flavors are amazingly fresh and delicious, and a caprese salad is one of those recipes! Instead of the traditional fresh basil leaves, I used my Lemon Basil Pesto to dress this salad for a side that packs a punch.

If you love the flavors of this recipe, be sure to check out my Spinach Orzo Pasta Salad which has a delicious basil olive oil dressing.

Why you will love this pesto caprese salad!

  • 3 ingredients: Super simple, super delicious!
  • Quick: This takes about 5 minutes to put together.
  • Dietary info: This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free, It is also low in carbs, coming in at 8g per serving.

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes: Use vine-ripened tomatoes that are bursting with flavor.
  • Mozzarella: Use fresh mozzarella, and preferably buffalo for the creamiest texture.
  • Pesto: Homemade pesto is so much more vibrant and fresh, but you can use your favorite store bought if you prefer.
  • Salt and pepper: To season.

How to make pesto caprese salad

  • Layer the sliced tomato and mozzarella on a plate.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle over the pesto.
Close up of mozzarella and tomato slices with pesto.

Recipe Variations

The beauty of this recipe is it’s simplicity, but there are a few additions you can make to suit your tastes.

  • Layer in some sliced avocado.
  • Sprinkle over some red chili flakes.
  • Omit the pesto for a more traditional Caprese salad and layer in some fresh basil leaves.
  • Swap the pesto for a balsamic reduction for a sweeter and tangier dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make it ahead of time?

It’s best to serve this pretty soon after you’ve made it so that the tomatoes and mozzarella are nice and fresh and don’t dry out. You can make it a couple of hours ahead of time and cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge so it’s ready to serve.

Why is it called caprese salad?

Insalata Caprese translates to ‘salad of Capri’ and is thought to have originated from the Italian Island. It contains the colors of the Italian flag and the classic flavors are often incorporated into different dishes like caprese pasta, caprese stuffed chicken and caprese pizza.

What’s the best wine to serve with caprese salad?

The best wine pairing would be a crisp white white like a sauvignon blanc or chablis that will cut through the creamy mozzarella. If you are a red wine drinker, a light pinot noir will work well.

Serving Suggestions

This pesto caprese salad is great served as a sit down appetizer, or serve it as a side with your favorite Italian dishes. It’s great with different pastas like lasagnas, spaghetti and ravioli and a freshly baked pizza. It’s perfect with baked chicken or steak too.

Pesto caprese salad garnished with lemon slices and basil leaves.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • This is a very simple recipe, so use the best quality ingredients you can. It really does make all of the difference.
  • Cut the mozzarella and tomato slices as evenly as you can.
  • The pesto will keep well in the fridge for up to a week, so be sure to make extra!
  • I like to garnish the plate with some fresh basil leaves and lemon slices for color and freshness.

More Easy Side Dishes

If you’ve tried this recipe, be sure to leave a star rating and a comment below!

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Slices of tomato and mozzarella with a pesto drizzle on top.

Pesto Caprese Salad

Delicious, fresh and so simple, this Italian pesto caprese salad takes minutes to make. It works wonderfully as a side dish and can be served on it's own as an appetizer. Perfectly refreshing, it's a great addition to so many meals!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 420kcal
Author: Betty Davies

Ingredients

  • 2 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 8 ounce fresh mozzarella ball
  • 2 tablespoons lemon basil pesto
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh basil leaves and lemon slices to garnish

Instructions

  • Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella into even thickness.
  • Overlap the tomato and mozzarella slices on a plate.
  • Drizzle over the pesto.
  • Season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves and small slices of lemon.

Notes

  • This is a very simple recipe, so use the best quality ingredients you can. It really does make all of the difference.
  • Cut the mozzarella and tomato slices as evenly as you can.
  • The pesto will keep well in the fridge for up to a week, so be sure to make extra!

Nutrition

Calories: 420kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 2020mg | Potassium: 378mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2094IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 609mg | Iron: 1mg

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