Even if you’ve never heard the word “caprese” before, you’ve probably had it—slices of smooth and creamy fresh mozzarella, luscious summer tomatoes, a sprinkling of freshly torn basil leaves and maybe a drizzle of some balsamic vinegar if you’re feeling fancy.

You can caprese-ify anything: a simple salad tossed with fresh arugula, a light and refreshing pasta salad, a simple piece of grilled chicken—the list goes on. Just toss these 3 ingredients together, proclaim “Caprese!” and watch the utter magic that unfolds when tomato, mozzarella and basil marry.

1. Toaster Oven Caprese Chicken


Photo by Megan Prendergast

Sure, a toaster’s great for heating up a Pop-Tart on the way to class or branding selfies onto your toast, but making chicken from scratch? This caprese chicken doesn’t make you turn on the oven in your air conditioning-less apartment in the middle of an August heatwave, making it an automatic winner.

Serve this chicken open-faced on some crusty bread for a stunning appetizer or place it on a bed of fresh greens for a light and refreshing salad. Get the recipe here.

2. Focaccia Pizza


Photo by Megan Prendergast

Look, if you haven’t tried focaccia yet, you’re doing something wrong. This stuff is what dreams are made of: a huge chunk of light, fluffy bread doused with olive oil and a heavy hand of herbs that you’ll want to gobble down by the loaf.

With a bread this good, you want toppings that will elevate the flavors, not mask them—enter caprese. The herbs on top of the focaccia flavor the whole pizza, while the tomato, basil, and mozzarella complement the texture of the focaccia without overwhelming it.

Whether you make this for a backyard barbecue or a simple movie night, you’re never going to see focaccia in the same light again. Get your hands on this focaccia pizza now.

3. Grilled Caprese Sandwich


Photo by Abigail Wilkins

You know that day when you felt extra fancy and decided to slip a few slices of tomato into your grilled cheese? You were onto something great. There’s something magical about ooey, gooey mozzarella, sweet and juicy tomatoes and savory basil (or in this case, pesto) that will make you never want to touch a Kraft single again.

The pesto is a special addition to this sandwich, bringing with it the pungent kick of garlic and a subtle nuttiness from pine nuts, creating a perfectly elevated grilled cheese suitable for any dinner party.

Drizzle this sandwich with a balsamic vinegar reduction and contemplate why you wasted so many years eating plain grilled cheese.

4. Bruschetta


Photo by Corinne Odom

Bruschetta is like the dumbest fancy recipe ever—you’re literally chopping up tomatoes and throwing them on some toast, but the end result is nothing short of extraordinary.

For this recipe, shredded mozzarella is your best bet because it melts easier than fresh, meaning that your small bite of bruschetta won’t be obscured by a huge chunk of cheese. Feel free to add a splash of balsamic to the tomato mixture before you spoon it on the bread. The pungent acidity from the vinegar pairs perfectly with the sweet tomatoes and creamy cheese.

Serve this as an appetizer at any party you throw. One bite of this is like a mouthful of summer. Get your fix of bruschetta here.

5. Caprese Pasta Salad


Photo by Taylor Kaminsky

This stuff is amazing whether it’s warm when the mozzarella is still gooey or cold the next day as a yummy pasta salad—you really can’t go wrong. Cherry tomatoes are a delicious addition here because they’re the same size as the rest of the ingredients, ensuring that you really get the full caprese experience.

This dish is substantial on its own, but tossing in some fresh baby spinach or topping with a piece of grilled chicken is the perfect way to make this a filling but light main course. Learn how here.

6. One-Pot Caprese Pasta


Photo by Abby Wang

Caprese pasta you can make in one pot in under 15 minutes? You should have been on this, like, yesterday. Cooking everything together in one pot not only means less clean up for you, but it gives all the flavors time to meld together to make a deeply infused pasta dish.

The addition of onion here deviates a little from the traditional caprese formula, but provides a mellow, sweet background flavor that only enhances the other flavors in the dish. To get the true caprese experience, sub in some fresh mozzarella for the parmesan that the recipe calls for. Get your pasta recipe here.

7. Mini Caprese Salad Bites


Photo by Sydney Pereira

These caprese salad bites are probably the cutest thing you could ever bring to a potluck. Serving them *inside* a cup made out of a tomato means extra cuteness.

As the recipe notes, this is very adaptable for a college student’s budget. Pick up whatever size tomato is on sale that week, or experiment a bit with the type of mozzarella you choose. These miniature bite-size cups showcase the simple yet stunning flavor profile that caprese is all about.