Jun 23, 2009

Insalata Surprise


As much as I like them, I can only eat so many classic Caprese salads before they start coming out of my nose. I desperately needed one with a little twist. I’ve added a few ingredients and topped it with a gorgeous garlic and basil dressing and named it Insalata Surprise. Act surprised, will you! 

This turned out to be the best non-caprese I’ve ever had! Not only does it look drop-dead gorgeous, but it’s super simple and the flavors are mind-blowing. The soft creamy mozzarella against the sweet roasted pepper and the plum, juicy tomatoes combined with the gentle garlic basil dressing create magic!



2 Roma tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 ball of mozzarella
handful black olives


1 small garlic clove
1/3 small shallot
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp olive oil
10 basil laves



* I’ve made a salad for two.

Start by grilling a red bell pepper until the skin is black. Put it in a (glass) bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it to be for 5 minutes. Then remove the skin and slice the pepper in thin strips. Let them cool off entirely.


I’m tearing the mozzarella in chunks. Put them on the plate first; it’ll be the foundation of your salad.


As soon as the pepper strips have cooled off, drape them over the mozzarella.


I always use Roma tomatoes for this, one ripe tomato per person. Cut them anyway you like them: slices, wedges, whatever rocks your boat. Just randomly toss them in.


Season the salad with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt.


Thinly slice a handful of black (or green) olives and add them to the plate as well.


Go for roughly 10 pretty green fresh basil leaves.


Put them in a blender or use your immersion blender, which is the perfect tool for dressings and soups! Add 4 tbsp olive oil, a heaping 1/4 tsp dijon mustard and squeeze in fresh lemon juice.


I’m also adding a small garlic clove, 1/3 medium sized shallot and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Tip: you can also add 1/2 a tsp sugar to balance things out!


Turn it into a pretty green dressing. You’re gonna love the flavor combination of this one, I promise! On the contrary to what you might think, it’s a really subtle flavor.


Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad, garnish with a few basil leaves and serve with a nice chunk of fresh whole-wheat bread.  You can have this for lunch, as an appetizer or serve it as a side-dish for pasta entrees. I doubt I’ll be making another classic caprese anytime soon, this was a great salad!

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    1. 1

      Sounds like a really tasty salad. I especially love your ideas for dressings, since I kindda suck at them.

      I think I’ll make this salad for lunch later this week but I’ll add some lamb’s lettuce to make it a bit more filling.

      Martijn Reintjes on Jun 23, 2009 @ 1:56 pm Reply
    2. 2

      I have to make this refreshing salad to counter the heat!

      deb on Jun 23, 2009 @ 2:55 pm Reply
    3. 3

      @Martijn Reintjes:

      You know what’s also tasty? Add big chunks grilled chicken and parmesan curls!

      Kay on Jun 23, 2009 @ 2:57 pm Reply
    4. 4

      @kay I like to keep my salads as veggie as possible, and eco chicken is way to expensive to just toss it in a salad. But I’ll add the parmesan since I have a piece left in my fridge!

      Martijn Reintjes on Jun 23, 2009 @ 3:09 pm Reply
    5. 5

      @Martijn Reintjes:

      I always toss eco chicken in my salads, but mainly when I eat them for dinner. Along with some fruit, yum.

      p.s eco chicken, is that the same as organic chicken? That’s not so crazy expensive here.

      Kay on Jun 23, 2009 @ 3:12 pm Reply
    6. 6

      WOW love the roasted red peppers in this one!! I love this salad especially with all the color heirloom tomatoes in season right now! I usually do not add to much to this classic salad as it tastes incredible the way it is!

      Cathy on Jun 23, 2009 @ 5:52 pm Reply
    7. 7

      Wow, that looks great… I love this combo any day, some of my fav foods. :-) This would be awesome with heirloom tomatoes, all purple and green and red. :-) YUM!

      naomig on Jun 23, 2009 @ 6:02 pm Reply
    8. 8

      I love roasted red bell peppers… and any recipe that includes them always gets my attention. This looks amazing. I love your recipes and LOVE your pictures. Your site gives me tons of inspiration – thank you!!!

      Julia on Jun 23, 2009 @ 6:36 pm Reply
    9. 9

      This looks sooo good!

      Amber on Jun 23, 2009 @ 9:18 pm Reply
    10. 10

      Oh Kay, that looks so delicious and I now have a craving for this fresh and yummy food. But you know what: they don’t have proper mozzarella in New Zealand. It’s a shame!

      Sarah on Jun 24, 2009 @ 1:59 am Reply
    11. 11

      Wow! This really looks amazing!! I can’t wait until I can get my hands on some fresh tomatoes and basil from the farmer’s market!! Yum!

      Tammy on Jun 24, 2009 @ 2:54 am Reply
    12. 12

      A winner! This combination would have to taste amazing.

      Kalyn on Jun 24, 2009 @ 4:07 am Reply
    13. 13

      I love anything Caprese style – sometimes I just make little Caprese Bites to serve at picnics and parties:


      Michele Morris on Jun 24, 2009 @ 4:05 pm Reply
    14. 14

      this looks delicious! i think i’m gonna make it into a pizza though :)

      Rema on Jun 24, 2009 @ 7:44 pm Reply
    15. 15

      I totally agree about the caprese salad – I fix so many of them! I like this twist, though!

      The Italian Dish on Jun 25, 2009 @ 3:57 am Reply
    16. 16

      Ahhh..a salad of my childhood, being of Italian descent! I am going to have to learn how to make my own fresh mozzarella cheese, without breaking the bank, because I’m in the middle of rural Midwest U.S. and we don’t have the good fresh stuff anywhere nearby!

      Do you make your own cheeses?

      Trish in MO on Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:27 pm Reply
    17. 17

      @Trish in MO:

      No, I don’t. Living in the #1 cheese city of the world (Gouda) there’s not real need for me to do it myself :)

      Kay on Jun 28, 2009 @ 10:29 pm Reply
    18. 18

      I set out to make this and then realised after I returned from the shop that I didn’t have garlic (booh!). I did not make the dressing this time because it just did not seem right without garlic.

      Instead I made the salad as described, replacing the grilled sweet pepper by Peppadew Piquante Mild. I also used cherry tomatoes because I grew those myself :D

      I drizzled a little olive oil and balsamic vinager over it and it tasted great (the peppers added a bit more oomph). I ate both portions, ha!

      Next time, I’ll make sure to use this dressing because it sounds wonderful and makes my mouth water.

      Tanja on Jul 4, 2009 @ 8:28 pm Reply
    19. 19

      A perfect summer salad!

      Kevin on Jul 5, 2009 @ 1:54 am Reply
    20. 20

      You cheese looks so lovely and fresh, tearing into those threads like that. I might try this with jarred roasted red peppers, just for ease. Looks so tasty and low carb!

      Lauren B on Jul 13, 2009 @ 3:21 pm Reply
    21. 21

      This looks great! Thanks for another fabulous recipe!

      Jasmine on Jul 13, 2009 @ 6:24 pm Reply
    22. 22

      I could eat buffalo mozzarella until… the cows come home! Yummy.

      Evo on Jul 29, 2009 @ 1:45 am Reply
    23. 23

      This is food porn

      vbguingyu on Aug 8, 2009 @ 7:19 pm Reply
    24. 24

      I’m always on the lookout for new salads for my sorority girls and this one looks like a winner.  I have mounds of tomatoes ripening in my garden and they are begging me to use them in this recipe. 

      Sorority Chef on Aug 30, 2010 @ 12:59 am Reply

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