caprese sandwich

food: the best summer sandwich


i was going to say the caprese sandwich is best sandwich ever, but realized that this might be an overstatement.  because, to be honest, there are a lot of fantastic sandwiches that make the best lunches (and dinners!).  even as i write this, i am thinking of my friend R.’s classic egg salad sandwich, my whatever-cheeses-are-in-the-fridge grilled cheeses, and a freshly made hummus + grilled veggie sandwich.  so maybe it’s more accurate to call this the best summer sandwich, and certainly the one that we eat most often in our house.  every week during the summer, to be precise, and sometimes twice!  especially now, when both tomatoes and basil are in full flush in the backyard.

every restaurant and many home chefs have their own version of this sandwich, which has it’s origins in the italian caprese salad.  i first had it in sandwich form at a friend’s house many years ago.  she was working for a catering company at the time and had a few friends over to show off the culinary skills she’d acquired by being in close proximity to skilled chefs (i doubt they let her handle a knife).  this was when none of us had any kitchen skills and thought that wine in a jug was classy, so we were easily impressed with these sandwiches.  but the truth is, they were pretty fabulous.  in part because of the melding of fresh flavors, but also because it is a simple meal that anyone can make, and make well.  that sandwich became a staple of my summer cooking (sometimes we even break down and make it in cold-weather months, but it’s never the same with hothouse tomatoes).

so in celebration for the tomato plants that are toppling over in my backyard with their beautiful, colorful yield, and this long holiday weekend, i’m posting my version of the caprese sandwich:


(serves 2-4) depending on bread loaf size and dinner vs. lunch portions

1 loaf fresh bread sliced horizontally (don’t skimp on the bread- it should be toothy, not soft and mushy.  french baguettes, ciabatta, or crusty country loafs work well, but make sure the bread to filling ratio favors the filling.  i sometimes hollow out a bit of the bread if it’s a thick country loaf)

1 clove garlic, cut in half lengthwise

2-3 ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ slices

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4″ slices

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

handful of full basil leaves (approx. 1/2 cup)

sea salt and/or other seasonings

freshly ground pepper

- lightly toast the bread halves and rub the garlic halves over both sides of each half of bread (wait for the bread to cool slightly to do this, but do it while it’s still warm!)

- drizzle both halves of the loaf of bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (i place them right next to each other and drizzle all at once to reduce mess)

- shingle tomato slices over 1/2 of the loaf

- sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground pepper over tomato slices ( you can also adjust flavors and try some unique spices blends- i use flavored sea salts)

- shingle mozzarella over tomato slices

- generously layer basil leaves over the mozzarella

- place top layer of loaf on top and cut into individual sandwich sections (be sure to hold down firmly while cutting with a bread knife to keep everything in place!)

buon appetito!



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