This rustic and super easy vegan Caprese salad will be your new favourite if you’re looking for the perfect summer salad. It’s packed with fresh and good-quality ingredients that will simply melt in your mouth.
Gluten-free, easily made soy-free, and no dairy in sight! Only a handful of ingredients and 10 minutes of your time.
It uses fresh ripe but firm tomatoes, fresh basil, vegan bocconcini (or mozzarella), good-quality olive oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Humble ingredients come together to create a spectacular salad.
Perfect as an appetiser, side to another dish, or take to a BBQ or picnic. It’s so simple but so good, and I’m sure it will be a crowd-pleaser!
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This Insalata Caprese is so Italian it even reflects the colours of the Italian flag – green, white and red. Like many other Italian dishes, the simplicity and quality of ingredients make this dish so amazing.
A non-traditional take on a vegan Caprese salad
There are two ways of enjoying a Caprese salad. Slices of mozzarella cheese and tomatoes layered with basil leaves topped off with olive oil, salt, pepper and sometimes a balsamic glaze. Creating a circular pattern with the ingredients on a plate is how a Caprese salad is typically served in a restaurant.
I’ve also seen a few recipes that have a more rustic, easy to eat approach to this delicious Italian salad. They’d roughly chop tomatoes, and mozzarella, adding dried oregano and basil leaves, then finish off with good-quality olive oil, salt and pepper.
Now, I’ve made this salad both ways using my vegan bocconcini, and I prefer the latter method. Let me explain.
It’s less time-consuming, but I also found that the salad tasted better with the dried oregano and leaving out the balsamic glaze. When you use ripe fresh tomatoes, they are pretty sweet. I found that the balsamic glaze just made it a little too sweet.
You can, of course, create that style of salad with the ingredients below and just swap the dried oregano for a nice balsamic glaze. You do you, but this is how I enjoy it.
Using vegan bocconcini instead of mozzarella in this recipe
Unlike some other vegan Caprese salad recipes, this one doesn’t use plain tofu in place of mozzarella. I wanted to create a recipe that was easy to make soy-free and close to a non-vegan version.
The use of my vegan bocconcini is what really takes this salad to the next level. Fresh mozzarella and bocconcini are pretty much identical. It’s just the size that’s different.
Making the balls smaller makes them easier to handle and cut to add to a salad like this. You want the cheese and the tomatoes to be bite-sized pieces.
How else can you use this dish?
If you want to make this a little fancier or get creative with the ingredients in this salad, here are a few different ways that you can utilise them:
- Add them to cooked spaghetti to freshen it up.
- Put on toast and served as a bruschetta style appetiser.
- Turn into skewers by layering the ingredients and then sprinkling with the dried oregano, salt and pepper.
- Turned into a bake with pasta.
- Wedged in between two pieces of good quality bread – a Caprese sandwich.
What goes well with this vegan Caprese?
So many things go well with this dish! Here are just a few (or a few too many) ideas to get you going.
- Crusty bread
- Chargrilled red-peppers
- Spinach and ricotta pie
- Eggplant and mushroom quinoa risotto
- Mushroom risotto
- Hash browns
- Brown lentil stew
- Smokey baked mac and cheese
- Creamy leek and mushroom pasta
- Stuffed peppers
- Sweet potato gnocchi
- Hearty lentil lasagna
- Potato gratin
- Spaghetti bolognese
- Chickpea pancakes (instead of the arugula salad)
- Cabbage pasta
- Herby potato salad
A few tips to get the most out of this dairy-free Caprese
- Ideally, use heirloom tomatoes that are ripe but firm for the best flavour.
- You can scale it up or down for what you’d like to eat it with. It serves four as a side or two on its own.
- Use good quality extra virgin olive oil as the ingredients are so simple that the oil will make a big difference.
- Aim to cut the tomatoes and cheese in a similar size.
- This salad is best eaten right away. It only takes 10 minutes to prepare (once you have the cheese ready), so making it last minute is a breeze.
- It will, however, keep fine in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Adjust the recipe to your liking. If you want more cheese, fewer tomatoes, more herbs or spices, go for it! Take it in the direction that works for you.
- Please don’t try and make this salad in the middle of winter. You really need the best in-season, quality ingredients for this recipe.
So next time you want to have a fresh and impressive salad at your table, give this Caprese salad a go!
Other wonderful recipes you’ll love:
- Vegan Gibanica Recipe (Serbian Cheese Pie)
- Panzanella Salad (Italian Tomato & Bread Salad)
- Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- High Protein Vegan Salad
- Simple Potato and Radicchio Salad
- Easy Vegan Tomato Tarts with Pesto