caprese salad with homemade croutons

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I thought I couldn’t love anything more than a caprese salad but I was wrong. A caprese salad with homemade croutons adds such texture. It’s like bruschetta in a bowl.

This caprese salad was a recipe I adapted from an online cooking course: I immediately fell in love with the flavors and textures.

Bread, basil, tomatoes, garlic mise en place

This salad begins with a torn, crusty loaf of bread. I like to rip the bread into bite size pieces to add to the salad’s rustic feel.

Typically, I keep my bread intake to a minimum. However, I’m making the croutons so I can pick up a healthier, multigrain loaf (throw in some flax seeds for extra “healthy”). Then I doctor it up with olive oil, herbs and sea salt. Homemade croutons are so easy to make and you can throw them on top of soups and salads for a little crunch!

I practically have to hide the croutons from the kids straight from the oven or they’ll never make the salad!

ripped bread for croutons

Prepare the salad once croutons are cooled and it’s close to the time you’ll serve. Don’t assemble the salad too early or your croutons will get soggy.

Assembling the salad

First, add the perfectly crisp croutons to a serving bowl. You’ll want to pop in your mouth more than add to the salad. One for the salad, one for me…

Next, add the sweet tomatoes and soft, mild, fresh mozzarella. Any tomatoes would work – I love the multi-colored cherry tomato packs because it’s a mix of flavors plus they’re so pretty.

Lastly, add the torn basil and sprinkle the red wine vinaigrette. This adds a subtle pucker against the savory olive oil. Repeat the layer.

The complimentary colors and textures cause an explosion in each bite! You get the soft cheese against the crispy croutons, the red and purple colors of the tomato next to the sprinkling of green basil and the rich olive oil coupled with the tangy vinegar! All of this equals a good time!

caprese salad finished

caprese salad with homemade croutons

Recipe by KarenCourse: Dinner


Prep time


Cooking time





The perfect summer salad! Enjoy the colors, flavors and textures of this side dish that is perfect for BBQs!


  • 1 loaf rustic bread (I use a multigrain)

  • 1 to 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • A couple springs of fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme (Optional)

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar

  • 9 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • kosher or sea salt (to taste)

  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

  • 1 1/2 lb heirloom tomatoes (or any variety of ripe tomatoes)

  • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced (approx.)

  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese (tear into bite size pieces)

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil (approx.)


  • To start, preheat your oven to 375° degrees Fahrenheit.
  • To cut the bread, you can trim off the crust or you can leave just a bit of it on for a different texture. Depending on the size of the loaf, cut it into about 4 pieces lengthwise. Then cut again into a few slices lengthwise and tear into to approximately 1 1/2″ pieces. You can cut the bread into cubes, but it’s also easy to tear it for a rustic look.
  • Toss the bread with a bit of olive oil, salt and a fresh herbs. Add just enough so that the bread is just lightly seasoned and coated. Then place onto a tray and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Toss about halfway through to ensure they are crisp on all sides. Once done, they should be crispy on the outside but still a bit soft in the middle. Set aside to cool, while you make the vinaigrette.
  • To prepare the vinaigrette, first mince the garlic. Using a bowl or jar, mix the garlic, vinegar and olive oil together. Make sure to use a quality olive oil as this salad is all about quality and fresh ingredients. Finish with a good pinch or two of salt and pepper. The vinaigrette should taste a tiny bit salty, as this is what will ultimately season the entire salad. Then shake to emulsify and set aside.
  • To assemble the salad, it’s best to layer it and toss as you go. Add about 1/3 of the bread, tomatoes, mozzarella, and red onion. Then add a couple of tablespoons of the vinaigrette. To keep with the rustic look of the salad, tear about 1/3 of the basil with your hands. Then gently toss and continue building another 2 layers. Add just a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette at a time, as you don’t want the salad to become too soggy. Any leftover dressing will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Once all of the ingredients have been added, toss the salad one last time. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately. This salad is delicious on its own, but it also makes a great appetizer or side dish.

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