Food/ Salads/ Vegetarian

Simple Caprese Salad With Toasted Walnuts

Cold, crunchy, refreshing, and substantial.

This simple Caprese salad with toasted walnuts is all I crave once the heat gets to be too much here in NC.

I know it probably seems like I’m jumping the gun—it’s May. And we’re just breaking through this long-ass winter that’s been keeping us (physically and emotionally) frosty for quite some time.

BUT.

When the summer hits us, it hits us hard—and I can already tell it’s on its way.

When it’s too hot to cook or eat anything warm, this a bowl of this good stuff is *everything*. It eats like a small meal.

It also makes for a great side to that Sunday pasta. You can even toss it with some greens to make an actual salad out of it.

Possibilities!

Much like the Margherita pizza, a traditional Caprese salad gives a tasty nod to the Italian flag with its colors.

Welp.

Since I’ve used a multi-colored mix of cherry tomatoes in this recipe, I guess I’ve taken this salad away from that.

But! I’ve also added toasted walnuts to the equation, which likely has every hardcore Italian making vulgar hand gestures toward their computer screen anyway, so I’m already on my way to being condemned.

It’s just… the toasted walnuts are so good.

That warming nutty flavor works amazingly in contrast with the pillowy mozzarella balls and I AM NEVER LOOKING BACK YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.

You’ll probably want to eat this every day, but there are worse things to get hooked on.

I’ve never been one of those people who can bite into a tomato like an apple. I’ve encountered so many of these people in my life and I will never understand that one. But grape tomatoes? I can pop those bad boys into my mouth steady.

If you snag yourself regular ol’ grape tomatoes, you’re going to have more of a classic flavor, which is a guaranteed win.

However, if you opt for a colorful bunch like I did, the flavor profile changes a wee bit; the green tomatoes are more crisp than firm and they bring a subtle tartness to your plate. So keep that in mind when choosing your tomatoes.

I love eating this salad both ways.

Oh, and dressing?

Keep it simple.

Seriously. A drizzle of olive oil, a splash of balsamic, a pinch of salt, and a crack of pepper is all you need.

If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations, and you’ll get a chance to be featured in my monthly newsletter.

5 from 9 votes
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Simple Caprese Salad With Toasted Walnuts

This Simple Caprese Salad With Toasted Walnuts is a delicious and refreshing side for that pasta dinner, and it makes for a great light meal on a hot day.

Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Author Dana Sandonato

Ingredients

  • 20 oz grape or cherry tomatoes*, sliced in half See notes
  • 8 oz mozzarella snack balls or bocconcini balls, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup Fresh basil leaves, torn or ribboned
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Toasted walnuts.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375° F. Spread the walnuts over a baking sheet and bake them until they're slightly toasted and aromatic—about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn! When done, remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly before adding them onto the salad.

Caprese Salad.

  1. Put the sliced tomatoes, sliced mozzarella balls, and fresh basil in a serving bowl. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette over the ingredients and toss to coat; add a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper, to taste.

  2. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the salad and serve.

Recipe Notes

*Grape or cherry tomatoes?: You can use either in this recipe, because the only difference is their shape and size. Grape tomatoes are shaped like grapes, and cherry tomatoes are shaped like cherries, though sometimes a little larger. You may have to quarter your cherry tomatoes rather than simply slice them in half, depending on how "bite-size" you want them.

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Amanda
    May 9, 2018 at 5:44 pm Salads like these make me SO excited that farmer's market season is here, and especially for all of the tomatoes! Adding toasted walnuts to Caprese salad sounds like the perfect touch of crunch. I would cozy up to this salad with a glass of wine, and sit out on the patio in pure bliss! :)
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      May 10, 2018 at 9:41 am Girrrrl. I am SO looking forward to hitting up the farmer's market. Unfortunately where we currently live, the closest one is almost 25 minutes away. BUT. Where we're moving to this fall, we'll have one about 5 minutes away. (Awww yissss!) I'm definitely liking your idea of this salad + wine + patio.
  • Reply
    Amy Nash
    May 9, 2018 at 9:09 am This caprese salad looks fantastic! I would way rather have something like this than a creamy macaroni salad any day of the week. And I love the crunch and slight bitterness of the walnuts!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      May 10, 2018 at 9:42 am I'm with you. I used to love creamy salads, but now they just seem so… unnecessary? And yes! The walnuts are key :)
  • Reply
    Donna
    May 8, 2018 at 11:57 am I love this salad, and the addition of the walnuts is just fantastic - nothing like a bit of crunch! I know what you mean about those deadly summers and salads being the order of the day. Our summers are brutal too, this salad will be making it to the table very shortly :)
  • Reply
    Tina
    May 7, 2018 at 6:46 pm What a great idea for a salad, I love using toasted nuts instead of croutons. They are crunchy and smokey and practically guilt free. I have toasted sliced almonds but not never walnuts before. Definitely going to have to try this. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      May 10, 2018 at 9:43 am Toasted almonds would definitely work in this salad if that's your preference! Whichever way you try it, I hope you love it :)
  • Reply
    Marisa Franca
    May 7, 2018 at 12:46 pm What a pretty salad and just at the right time what with grilling season being here. I love the freshness of the salad and the simplicity. It will go perfectly with grilled meats.
  • Reply
    Carmy
    May 7, 2018 at 10:11 am I haven't had a simple caprese salad in soooo long! I'm not going to lie, my favourite part of it are the mozzarella balls because I love eating those whole on their own ha. I've never tried the green tomatoes before so it'd be interesting to give them a try and try their tart flavour profile.
  • Reply
    Sarah
    May 7, 2018 at 9:21 am This has me drooling over here! My tomato plants are only about 3" high right now, but I'm imagining all the tomatoes! I hope they grow fast, and I can devour all things caprese. (And I think toasted walnuts sounds SO GOOD!)
    • Reply
      Killing Thyme
      May 10, 2018 at 9:45 am Yay for your tomato plants! I'm so sad I didn't grow this year, but with us moving end of summer/early fall, I didn't want to have to transport a container garden. Haha. Ah well. I'll dig up our backyard next year!
  • Reply
    Kathy McDaniel
    May 7, 2018 at 12:22 am This salad looks beautiful and so colorful! Love the added walnuts too. Such a good idea to add a bit of crunch. Definitely a favorite salad to accompany grilled meats during summer.
  • Reply
    Gloria
    May 3, 2018 at 2:49 pm With summer grilling season finally here, salads will be a staple for the next several months. This looks like the perfect side to lots of recipes....but also....even as a meal. Add some protein and dig in.
  • Leave a Reply