As much as I adore caprese salad—tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil—there are endless ways to showcase the killer combination of tomatoes, cheese, and herbs. So I switched it up here, substituting queso fresco—or cotija if you like your cheese a little saltier and crumblier—and cilantro. The delicious result is a refreshing new way to enjoy an old favorite. (For more about using simple substitutions to keep cooking interesting, see this post.)
Like any caprese, this salad is purposefully simple, perfect for letting great ingredients shine. So make this when tomatoes are in season and use the best you can find, ideally heirlooms from the farmers market or your back yard. (For more about what makes an heirloom tomato so special, see this post.) And enhance them with your best olive oil and flakiest salt.
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 1/2 pounds good-quality tomatoes (about 4 medium or 3 large), ideally different colors, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 3/4 cup halved good-quality cherry or grape tomatoes, ideally different colors
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced white or red onion
- 3/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese (see note)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves and small sprigs
- Salt, ideally coarse or flaked salt
- Freshly ground pepper
Arrange the tomato slices on plates or a platter. Top with the cherry tomatoes, onion, and queso fresco. Drizzle with the olive oil and lime juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
NOTE Queso fresco is a mild-tasting, semi-soft, crumble-able cheese and cotija is a firmer, slightly saltier, also crumble-able cheese. Look for them in the specialty or Latin cheese section of your supermarket. If you can’t find them, substitute feta.