Traditional recipes

Green Tomato and Cantaloupe Caprese Salad

Green Tomato and Cantaloupe Caprese Salad

Tim McGeever

Green Tomato and Cantaloupe Caprese Salad

A few weeks ago, I would have described green tomatoes as unripe anomalies — complete strangers to my kitchen. Combined with bright orange cantaloupe and fresh mozzarella at its base, the recipe takes hold of several savory and sweet components and takes your palate for a ride.

See all salad recipes.

Click here to see Green Tomatoes for Everyone.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 4 green tomatoes
  • 1 Pound sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cantaloupe, sliced
  • 1/4 Cup basil, chiffonade

Green Zebra Tomato Caprese Salad

Creamy white mozzarella paired with ripe emerald tomatoes and fresh basil, dressed with extra virgin olive oil, coarse salt and black pepper—Green Zebra tomato caprese salad will rock your summer table!!

A twist of the classic caprese salad with its green, red, and white Italian flag colors, this caprese features green-striped zebra tomatoes and fresh basil. Those sweet, slightly citrusy green zebra tomatoes layered with rich velvety fresh cheese and thin basil ribbons–this caprese is beautiful and bright, the same caprese concept, with different shades of green.


Caprese Salad This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details. Caprese Salad or Insalata Caprese or tomato, mozzarella and basil salad is a cult dish of Italian cuisine. It&rsquos ready in less than 5 minutes and made with the most simple ingredients like sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese seasoned with basil leaves, oregano and extra virgin olive oil. Caprese salad originated in Campagna region on the small island of Capri in the golf of Naples. And as many Italian dishes the geographical origin gave the name to the dish. There is a legend that Caprese Salad was first seen in 1920s at the dinner reception of a famous Italian poet and his colleeges at Hotel Quisisana of Capri. It was an attempt to add fresh notes to the classic menu of the restaurant AND emphasize on the patriotic colors of Italy that are represented so well in Caprese Salad. Simplicity in preparation and a perfect marriage of the ingredients made Insalata Caprese an unbeatable choice, especially for summer menu. But before you get too excited and go ahead and jump into slicing all tomatoes and mozzarella you have there are some ground rules on how not to ruin what&rsquos already perfect. First and foremost &ndash ingredients are key.

Tomatoes

Make sure you use the most fresh tomatoes you can get. Better yet if they come on a sprig that guarantees incredibly fragrant and fresh tomato.

Make sure your tomatoes are not overripe. Too ripe tomatoes will result mushy and will have too much juice going in the salad.

Choose tomatoes ripe enough but still with a nice crunch to them for the best result.

I love using beefsteak tomatoes or bull&rsquos heart tomatoes for my Caprese Salad as they have less water and taste fantastic. Butt you can get away with any kind of tomatoes you like as long as they meet all the criteria above.

Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella is the second most important ingredient in the the salad.

So make sure you choose it responsibly as well 😉

You&rsquove probably guessed it &ndash fresh and quality mozzarella is your best bet.

When you cut mozzarella see if it leaks any excess milk or water.

If so tap each slice with a linen towel before assembling it on a plate. You don&rsquot really want any water or milk in your salad.

Basil & Oregano

Green basil leaves fresh picked from your garden or your windowsill is the dream scenario.

But those bought from the farmers market this morning will do a good job as well.

Dried oregano is relatively an optional seasoning but it&rsquos used a lot.

It balances well with fresh basil and fills some spicy notes that otherwise you would want to kick up with some ground pepper.

And the last, but mostly important thought&hellip

RESIST adding anything else.

Especially balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze or other dressing!

I know, temptation is high but if you resist it the reward will pay 10 fold.

Fresh, full of genuine flavors Caprese Salad just like if you&rsquod have it in Italy 😋


Make These Crispy Oven-Fried Green Tomato Caprese Stacks

You want to get dinner on the table, fast! The only problem is, you don’t have a lot of time and don’t want to rely on canned, instant or frozen solutions. Blogger Robyn Stone has you covered, with her new collection of recipes designed to feed everyone in the house healthfully (in under an hour). This oven-fried green tomato caprese stacks are a crisp, tangy and satisfying seasonal treat you’ll want to master tonight.

In early summer, before the tomatoes show even a speck of pink, you’ll find me in the garden picking them. I swear I can still hear my daddy lecturing me for picking so many before they had a chance to ripen. He’d stop by our little house, as he did most afternoons, and, with a hint of laughter in his voice, say, “You’ll never even have enough tomatoes for a sandwich if you keep picking them the minute the plant starts blooming.” But heavens, they sure do shine in this dish. Lighter and so much easier than traditional deep-fried green tomatoes, these still offer that familiar crunch when you take a bite. They’re perfect as an appetizer when you have company, but I also love them as a weeknight side dish with supper.

Even Easier!

If you want to skip the stacking, you can easily turn these ingredients into a lush and satisfying salad. Arrange two cups mixed salad greens in a bowl, then add ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes, the fried green tomatoes, mozzarella slices, and torn basil. Top with balsamic vinegar (instead of the reduction) and olive oil.


Enjoying Cantaloupe & Green Tomato Salad

This year may be remembered as the Year of the Green Tomato - at least in Northern California. Though more heirloom tomato varieties are showing up in markets, many backyard garden vines are still loaded with them, just waiting for a few more hot days.

The current abundance of these hard, green globes means it is a time for aficionados to get their fill of fried green tomatoes. But this popular, well-regarded dish is not the only game in town. A quick Internet search pulls up more recipes: green tomato ketchup, green tomato pie, green tomato fritters, green tomato pickles, relish and hash. Even green tomato mincemeat.

An unripe, green tomato has a fresh, tart "green" flavor, similar to its cousin, the tomatillo. Both fruits are tartest when they are greenest and firmest. As both mature and ripen, they begin to soften, change color and develop a milder, sweeter flavor. Green tomatoes eaten soon after picking will have better flavor and texture.

In keeping with our Labor Day throw-together dishes, Cantaloupe & Green Tomato Salad uses seasonal produce and can be made ahead. Sweet cantaloupe (you can also use stone fruit) balances the tart tomatoes.

Corn - moderately sweet compared with the ripe fruit - hits middle ground, while preserved lemon provides punctuations of salty tang. Additional texture comes from jicama, and a pinch of smoked paprika gives the salad another layer of flavor.

The disparate-seeming ingredients in this salad may make guests wonder if you were cleaning out your refrigerator, but it all pulls together. It is even better with a fruity, just-tart-enough white wine, which complements both the tart green tomatoes and the ripe cantaloupe.

You can add more cantaloupe if desired, but choose a fruitier wine - perhaps with a bit of sweetness. Or go with a savory slant (less cantaloupe, more tomatoes) and a tarter wine, perhaps one with some herbal notes.

-- For more on green tomatoes, see the links with this story on sfgate.com/food.

Cantaloupe & Green Tomato Salad

Serves 2 as a salad or 4 as a salsa

This salad is a refreshing, crunchy change from green, leafy-type salads. Or serve the mixture as a salsa alongside grilled pork, chicken or fish. It can be made ahead refrigerate until ready to serve. Leftover jicama makes a good crudite.

  • 1 small ear of corn
  • 1 small green tomato, about 4 to 6 ounces
  • 3 to 4 ounces jicama
  • 8 ounces cantaloupe, ripe but still fairly firm
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons preserved lemon, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon snipped chives, to taste
  • -- Extra virgin olive oil
  • -- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • -- Dash of smoked paprika or chipotle chile powder, to taste (optional)
  • -- Small inside leaves of butter lettuce, rinsed and dried
  • -- Squeeze of lemon juice, as needed
  • -- Chopped tarragon to garnish

Instructions: Remove husks and silks from the corn. Loosely wrap the corn in parchment or slightly dampened paper towels and microwave on high for 2 minutes set aside to cool. Meanwhile, cut tomato and jicama into small dice (you should have about 1/2 cup of each) cut cantaloupe into small dice (about 3/4 cup). Combine in a medium-size bowl.

When corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob. Remove any remaining silks and separate the kernels add to the bowl along with the preserved lemon, chives and enough olive oil to moisten. Season to taste with salt, pepper and smoked paprika or chipotle chile powder, if using.

Form a small butter lettuce leaf into a small "cup." Spoon salad into the lettuce cups, brighten with a light squeeze of lemon juice, if needed, and garnish with tarragon.

Per salad serving: 102 calories, 4 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 40 mg sodium, 6 g fiber.

Wine pairing: Quaff an everyday wine like a zippy Vinho Verde or California Sauvignon Blanc while you're cooking serve a festive Prosecco such as NV Sorelle Bronca Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry ($18) for company and if you prefer more cantaloupe in the salad.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 (16 ounce) package fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Stir balsamic vinegar and honey together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. Set the balsamic reduction aside to cool.

Arrange alternate slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese decoratively on a serving platter. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, spread fresh basil leaves over the salad, and drizzle with olive oil and the balsamic reduction.


How To Make Easy Caprese Salad with Balsamic Glaze

Few ingredients showcase the magic of eating with the seasons better than the humble summer tomato. A ripe, juicy, perfectly imperfect mid-August heirloom is so vastly superior to the sad, mealy, flavorless supermarket tomato you’ll find come December that they may as well not be related at all. Your friends who claim they despise raw tomatoes? Feed them one in August and they’ll likely change their minds.

The end of summer is pure euphoria for tomato lovers — it’s when you’ll find plump, sweet-smelling tomatoes in a stunning array of shapes, sizes, and colors at the farmers market that are begging to be toted home and devoured. Because they’re so darn scrumptious on their own, the best summer tomato recipes let the tomato take center stage — which is where this easy caprese salad comes in.

All we’ve added is a milky mozzarella, fragrant fresh basil, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, a spoonful of balsamic glaze, and a shower of flaky sea salt to help draw out the sweet tomato juices. It’s so incredibly simple and quick, there’s no reason it can’t be on your table tonight.

The Best Tomatoes for Caprese Salad

The great thing about making a caprese in the summertime is that pretty much any tomato you use will taste great. I personally prefer larger varieties of tomatoes, which, when sliced, end up being similarly sized to the sliced mozzarella. Most often I grab a variety of heirlooms from the farmers market: Cherokee Purple or Green Zebra are both delicious, and I love the way each heirloom has its own distinct personality. Big, bright red beefsteaks are also good contenders. When selecting tomatoes, choose fragrant ones that smell earthy at the stem end and feel heavy for their size. Avoid any with wrinkled skins.

You can also make a caprese with smaller tomato varieties, such as plum, roma, cherry, grape, or sungold. If you go that route, tear the mozzarella into smaller pieces so that every bite strikes the right balance of flavors. No matter how you prepare it, be sure to use the freshest whole-milk mozzarella you can find.

Although I strongly recommend saving the caprese experience for summertime (it makes it that much more special when tomato season rolls around), you can make a caprese salad at any time of year. If a craving strikes in mid-March, let’s say, be sure to follow these instructions for picking the best supermarket tomato.

The Case for Balsamic Glaze

Although balsamic vinegar in any form isn’t used in a classic Italian caprese, I’d argue balsamic glaze more than deserves its place in this salad. When cooked down to a thick, syrupy glaze, balsamic vinegar becomes deliciously tangy and sweet, adding extra oomph to every bite. While vinegar straight from the bottle will pool around the tomatoes and make them soggy, a thick glaze can be drizzled with intention, dressed perfectly to your liking. You can either follow our easy 1-ingredient recipe for balsamic glaze, or pick up a bottle at the store. We like this one from Trader Joe’s.


Other Salad Recipes You Might Like

The traditional Caprese salad uses sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls, and fresh Italian basil leaves.

Then, you drizzle on extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and top with salt and ground black pepper.

To sum up, the recipe is so easy and with no cooking involved. You can prepare these sticks in 10 minutes!


Insalata Caprese

(Tomato and Mozzarella Salad)

Insalata caprese (literally, the salad from Capri) is the perfect summertime dish for cooks in a hurry slicing is the hardest part. The salad was created in the 1950s at the Trattoria da Vincenzo for regulars out for a light lunch. They'd order a just-picked tomato and fresh fior di latte (cow's-milk mozzarella — no buffalo on Capri). The salad has evolved on the island to include a few leaves of rughetta (wild arugula) and a pinch of dried wild oregano, both local products everywhere else in Italy it takes the form of tomato, mozzarella and basil.

The dressing is always a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil — only. Vinegar would destroy the delicate flavor of the cheese and is never used. Because this salad is so simple, top-rate ingredients are imperative: Hothouse tomatoes and rubbery processed mozzarella are unacceptable.


Cantaloupe Caprese Pasta Salad w/ Toasted Fennel Vinaigrette

If you’ve read this blog before, you know I have a tendency to rant. And, more often than not, those rants tend to be about the weather. Remember this gem from February? In my defense, I am from Nova Scotia, and complaining about the weather is kinda our thing – it’s kinda a thing for most coastal populations. Although I’ve called Toronto home for nearly 10 years now, sustained exposure to Lake Ontario doesn’t take the Maritimer out of the girl. So today, I’m gunning for spring and it’s diabolical plan to limit my enjoyment of this Cantaloupe Caprese Pasta Salad and its inability to reward me for my heroic survival of winter.

Spring, what the f*ck? Haven’t we suffered enough? It was dark, gray, and depressing all winter long. And now it’s spring and it’s dark, gray and depressing. It’s very unmotivating. You’re not inspiring confidence. I mean, you get bonus points for that sweet spike in temperature but are you holding the sun for ransom? You stunted the potential of this Cantaloupe Caprese Pasta Salad when you forced me to eat it inside. I get that your pissy precipitation makes tulips possible, but you have to know when to let up. At some point you’re not helping, you’re hurting. My daffodils are pretty beaten down from the last downpour and so am I. Toronto is hella green, it doesn’t need any more rain. So, stop! Either bring the sunshine or f*ck off and let summer drive! Rant over.

As always, my flare of anger is due to disappointment. I got excited about a potentially sunny Friday cookout that didn’t wind up happening because, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, it got rained out. But when I was making this Cantaloupe Caprese Pasta Salad, I did not yet know the fate of my evening plans. Last Thursday had been a spectacular day and summer seemed all but inevitable – I got excited. And when I get excited about summer, I make pasta salad.

To me, pasta salad is the ultimate summer side. It transforms pasta from slouchy comfort food to refreshing BBQ companion. And anything that makes pasta an appropriate all-weather food deserves to be worshiped. I also love that pasta salad, like pizza, is a culinary Mad Lib. You can put any combination of any number of things in a pasta salad, which makes it an ideal vehicle for leftovers. Essentially, you can empty your fridge into a bowl and nothing gross will ever lurk in your fridge again… or that’s the dream, anyway.

This salad is basically a riff on the classic Caprese Salad except the tomatoes have been exchanged for cantaloupe, the balsamic dressing for a toasted fennel vinaigrette, and, oh yeah, it’s riddled with pasta. Essentially the only thing Caprese about this Cantaloupe Caprese Pasta Salad is the fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. But, come on! How could I resist a good double alliteration? Cantaloupe Caprese? No one is above picking that name. No one!

I chose cantaloupe because of its vibrant color and refreshing texture. I’m melon-fiend! I think the fact that my grocery store offers “Personal” watermelons is a triumph. And, yes, I’m fully aware that calling them “Personal” is just a clever way to charge more for less melon. And, yes, to me a melon of any size has the potential to be a “Personal” melon. But what can I say? Marketing to me is like shooting fish in a barrel. Anyway, the point is cantaloupe = summer goodness, so into the salad it went.

In reality, this pasta salad was a summer ingredient dream team. To me, any fresh cheese is a summer cheese and basil invades my garden every summer, so just the smell of it manufactures the feeling of the sun on my face. With this stacked summer-ready cast, this Cantaloupe Caprese Pasta Salad deserved to be enjoyed outside under a patio umbrella in the blazing sunshine. But instead, my boyfriend BBQed sausages under a RAIN umbrella while I grumbled over this salad inside.

This Cantaloupe Caprese Pasta Salad deserves its moment in the sun. So, the next time a sunny day strikes the place you call home, do me a solid and give this salad a go. Thanking you in advance.