Brilliant ways to reinvent the classic caprese salad we all know and love

Aug 19, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Image: Aleksandrakonwa/Getty Images

Some people say that if you can't get the best tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella, there's no point in making a caprese salad. I say, where's the fun in that? These hacks may not be as authentic as the original, but they sure as hell make a meal that tastes just as good.

caprese salad ideas
Image: Becci Collins/SheKnows

1. Make it bite size

At your next party, make an appetizer-friendly caprese by skewering cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls and basil onto toothpicks. Drizzle with olive oil, and serve alongside a balsamic reduction for dipping.

More: Grilled zucchini caprese captures summer in every bite

2. Add fruit

Round out the tartness of your tomatoes with some fruit. Strawberries or watermelon add a subtle fruit flavor to your caprese without being overwhelming, and they're totally dreamy with fresh, milky mozzarella.

3. Change the cheese

If you can't get fresh mozzarella, don't go with that low-moisture stuff. Instead, try replacing it with ultra-luxurious burrata, or change things up with a tangy fresh goat cheese or salty feta. The flavor profile will be different, sure, but tomatoes and basil go with so many different delicious cheeses that it's hard to mess up.

4. Roast your tomatoes

It can't be summer all the time, and out-of-season tomatoes can be pretty pathetic in the flavor department. But never fear! There's a simple workaround. Slice your tomatoes, drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and slow-roast them at 250 degrees F for a couple of hours, until they're wrinkled, darker in color and your whole house smells amazing. Roasting tomatoes concentrates their flavor, meaning even the mealy winter tomatoes you get at the grocery store in February can still star in a caprese salad.

More: How to make caprese salad better — add bacon and tortellini

5. Give it a drizzle

If you find yourself a bit underwhelmed by the subtlety of a traditional caprese salad, jazz it up with a drizzle. Reduce some balsamic vinegar to make a sweet and tangy drizzle for your salad, or douse it with your favorite vinaigrette. It's not traditional, but it will definitely add some brightness to this delicate dish.

6. Serve it hot

Caprese it usually served chilled or at room temperature, but the combo of tomato, basil and mozzarella works beautifully in a variety of other meals. Toss with sautéed chicken, mix with just-drained pasta and olive oil, or throw it on top of flatbread for a quick Margherita pizza. It's a wonderful way to add summery flavors to your meals all year round.

More: Skillet caprese chicken — an easy way to turn a favorite salad into dinner