This delicious spinach caprese salad is a colorful array of sun-ripened tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, tender baby spinach, fragrant basil, and a homemade balsamic glaze. The easy fresh salad is excellent for light lunch or a quick dinner side salad.
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Homemade spinach caprese salad
I love anything and everything caprese and could literally eat it every day! There’s something so satisfying about the combination of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.
This simple spinach caprese salad puts a spin on traditional caprese salad by adding the tender leaves of baby spinach. Because spinach salad + caprese truly is the perfect match!
And the best part?The salad is super quick to put together, making it a perfect no-fuss dish to bring to your next potluck, BBQ, picnic, or cookout.
Caprese salad with spinach is one of the best summer salads and packs an abundance of sunny aromas. The recipe is also a great way to use up tomatoes and basil from your garden.
Honestly though, we enjoy it year-round, and now I’m happy to share my easy recipe with you!
What is caprese salad?
Caprese salad (pronounced “cah-preh-zseh” and also known as insalata caprese) is a traditional Italian salad from the island of Capri. It’s made with sun-ripened tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, olive oil, and a hint of salt.
My spinach caprese has all the ingredients you’d find in traditional caprese salad with the addition of a cup baby spinach leaves and a homemade balsamic glaze. Let’s go over the grocery list.
- Baby spinach: Soft and tender baby spinach is best. Bagged spinach is often pre-washed. However, rinse the spinach under cool, running water if it isn’t ready-to-eat. Lay the leaves out on paper towels or a kitchen towel and dry off most of the moisture.
- Tomatoes: You want juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes for this salad. Avoid tomatoes that are still green or have soft spots. Heirloom tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and plum tomatoes work beautifully.
- Fresh mozzarella: You need 1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese or creamy mozzarella di buffala. Don’t skimp here because you’ll really notice the quality. You can also buy pre-sliced mozzarella to save time.
- Fresh basil leaves are quintessential for spinach and tomato salad. Be sure to pluck the leaves right before serving. The herb is easy to find at most supermarkets, and you can even use frozen basil.
- Olive oil: I like cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil for this spinach mozzarella salad because it’s less processed and has more flavor. Of course, regular refined olive oil works, too.
- Balsamic vinegar and clear honey are needed to make the balsamic reduction. In a pinch, I’ve also used balsamic vinegar as is, but a sweet and thick balsamic reduction is so much better. You can also purchase premade balsamic glaze.
- Salt and pepper: Add flaky sea salt and a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper to compliment the other flavors of this tomato spinach salad.
How to make spinach caprese salad
This spinach caprese comes together in a snap! Cooking the balsamic glaze will take a little time, but assembling the dish can be done in 10 minutes, tops. Here’s a breakdown of the recipe step-by-step:
Step 1: Make the balsamic reduction
- To make the balsamic glaze, add the balsamic vinegar and honey into a small saucepan. Whisk together and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Once simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook until thickened and reduced by half, which takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
- Let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Step 2: Prep the veggies
- Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/3-in / 0.8 cm thick slices.
Step 3: Assemble the salad
- Arrange the spinach on a large serving platter. Then alternate layers of mozzarella and tomatoes. Simply tuck a slice of fresh mozzarella under a slice of tomato.
- Finally, nestle a few basil leaves and extra spinach leaves between some layers.
Step 4: Serve
- Drizzle with olive and balsamic glaze and season with sprinkles of salt and pepper according to your taste. Enjoy immediately.
Tips for the best spinach caprese salad
As you can see, this recipe is a breeze to whip up. And here are some tips to make it the best spinach tomato mozzarella salad.
- Fresh produce: With a simple recipe like this spinach caprese salad, it’s important to use fresh ingredients. That’s why this dish is a typical summer salad when tomatoes and basil are at their best.
- Use good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They don’t have to be the most expensive options but should be good and have a well-round flavor.
- Serve fresh. For the best texture and flavor, prepare the salad right before serving. You can find tips on making spinach mozzarella salad ahead of time further down in this post.
This easy caprese salad recipe is perfect as written. However, to switch things up a bit, have a look at the following ideas:
- Fruit: For an unexpected twist, replace half of the tomatoes with fresh peaches, avocado slices, or strawberries.
- Cheese: Substitute mozzarella with burrata, a soft cheese made from mozzarella and cream.
- Pesto: In case you don’t have fresh basil, serve your salad with a drizzle of basil pesto.
- Garlic: To amp up the flavor, prepare the salad with minced garlic. I’d use 1 to 2 garlic cloves.
- Italian dressing: Try tomato mozzarella salad with Italian dressing in place of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
- Lettuce: You can replace the fresh spinach with arugula or other types of lettuce.
- Nuts: Feel free to sprinkle toasted pine nuts or candied pecans over your spinach caprese salad for some crunch.
Chopped spinach salad
Instead of creating a layered salad (like you see in the photos), make chopped caprese salad and serve it in a salad bowl. To do this, chop the mozzarella and tomatoes into cubes. Then toss them with the other ingredients in a large bowl. Alternatively, prepare this dish with mozzarella pearls and cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes.
What to serve with caprese salad?
Spinach caprese is a refreshing appetizer and side dish for pasta or grilled chicken breasts. I often make a large portion, and we enjoy the salad as the main course with garlic bread or breadsticks.
How to store caprese salad with spinach
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume the next day. While the mozzarella and tomatoes hold up well, the basil and baby spinach eventually wilt.
Can you make spinach caprese salad ahead of time?
Spinach caprese salad tastes best fresh. Since this recipe is so quick and easy, I recommend assembling the salad only an hour ahead of time. However, there are a few steps that you can prepare in advance:
- Balsamic glaze: Prepare the balsamic reduction and store it in the ridge, and it will keep well for several weeks.
- Slicing: Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella into slices and store them airtight in separate containers in the refrigerator.
When you want to bring this salad to your next cookout, take all the components with you and put everything together right before serving.
More salad recipes
Want more salad? Have a look at these easy recipes:
- Watermelon Salad
- Tomato Salad
- Roasted Asparagus Salad with Red Onion
- Grilled Apple Salad
- Arugula Citrus Salad
- Gnocchi Salad