an overhead shot of chopped caprese salad on a white plate. on the distressed white wood table around it are two slices of tomato, a bunch of fresh basil, a small bowl of salt, and two empty avocado skins.

chopped caprese and avocado salad

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This chopped caprese salad with avocado is the perfect reminder that food doesn’t always have look pretty to taste really, really good.

Your standard caprese salad features thick slices of tomato, fresh mozzarella, and whole basil leaves arranged in artful layers on a plate or platter. Frequently it is topped with a gorgeous drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

And while I love a caprese salad like that in a restaurant setting, on the average weeknight I’m going for speed, not art. And that’s where a chopped caprese salad truly shines.

a long vertical overhead photo showing a white plate of caprese salad in the bottom center. at the top of the photo slightly cropped out on the left is a bowl of salad, and on the right is a bunch of fresh basil.

If you don’t know, since our move from L.A., Jimmy and I spent our first month and a half apartment hunting while living with his parents here in Boston. My mother-in-law made this chopped caprese salad with avocado on one of our first nights in town, when we were still quarantined upstairs and jetlagged af, and it quickly became part of our regular dinner rotation.

When this chopped caprese salad is on the table it’s like Pringles — “once you pop you can’t stop.” I always reach for it first and don’t start in on anything else until my bowl is empty. Every bite makes you want to take another bite. Because it’s just so good! And it’s so easy to make.

It’s basically the perfect “oops I meant to put a vegetable on the table and forgot until 5 minutes before dinner” salad.

When we’re back in our own place again (which is soon, because we’re moving this week!) and I need to make quick lunches on my WFH days, this is 100% the kind of quick and easy recipe I’m going to reach for. Why not for dinners? Because Jimmy doesn’t like raw tomato or avocado other than in guac (Jimmy is wrong). But that’s fine, tbh — more chopped caprese salad for me.

an overhead shot of a ball of mozzarella cheese on a small cutting board. half the cheese has been cubed, the other is in slices. a knife rests on the board to the right. around the cutting board is a bunch of fresh basil, the package the cheese came in, a bowl of avocado, a bowl of chopped tomato, and some other food scraps.

Plum tomatoes are perfect for a chopped caprese salad, sliced into large half-inch cubes and generously salted as a crucial first step. The salt begins drawing water out of the tomatoes as they sit, intensifying their flavor and enhancing their sweetness.

For mozzarella, you’ll want the good stuff — liquid packed, the kind that comes in a round ball instead of a brick, and definitely not the kind that comes pre-shredded in a bag. I like using a 6 oz mozzarella ball and cubing it myself so that it matches the size of the diced tomato, but if you want to use the smaller balls of mozz, by all means, go for it.

Avocados might not be standard in a caprese salad, but in this chopped version they’re a more than welcome addition. They add a fatty, somewhat earthy flavor to balance out the brininess of the cheese and the salty, sweet tomatoes.

a bowl of caprese salad sits on a distressed white wooden table. an empty avocado skin is on the table behind it along with a pepper grinder, a cup of salt, and a bunch of fresh basil sits to the left of it. another plate of salad is barely cropped out in the background.

Like I said, this is not the prettiest salad. As you toss and stir everything together and the abrasive salt and freshly ground black pepper begin to break down the avocados, it will start to look a bit messy. But who cares??? It’s tasty and that’s what matters.

I know my photos here are absolutely stunning (thank you, thank you) but I worked hard to arrange those bowls for the photos! On a normal night, if the avocado pits cooperate and pop out without a fight, I can get the whole salad on the table in about 5 minutes start to messy, delicious finish.

a few quick notes

  • My preference is to use roma or plum tomatoes because they handle the salt really well, but it’s really up to you what kind of tomato you prefer.
  • Fresh basil grows really nicely in windowsill gardens or hydroponic gardens (like an Aerogarden) and is easy to snip and propagate so you always have fresh basil when you want it. To learn how to thinly slice your basil like a pro, click here.
  • If you’ve ever wondered what salt and pepper do for a recipe try this recipe first without either, then add a generous sprinkle of both and taste again — you’ll see just how much of a difference it makes.

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an overhead shot of a chopped caprese salad in a bowl with a wooden spoon sticking out of it. on the wooden table next to it are two tomato slices, an empty avocado skin, and some fresh basil leaves.

chopped caprese and avocado salad

The Practical Kitchen
This simple four-ingredient chopped caprese salad sparkles with just a bit of salt and pepper. Finish with a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar if you're feeling fancy.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 6 oz whole mozzarella (water packed, preferably)
  • fresh basil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • balsamic vinegar (optional, for drizzling)

Instructions

  • Dice your tomatoes into large ½" chunks. Place in your serving bowl and sprinkle generously with salt to begin drawing water out while you prep the other ingredients.
  • Slice the mozzarella and avocado into large ½" chunks. Add to the tomatoes.
  • Drizzle with a glug of olive oil (about 2 TBSP) and freshly cracked black pepper. Toss gently to combine.
    Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Immediately before serving, thinly slice (chiffonade) 5-6 fresh basil leaves, add to the salad, and stir to combine. Serve with balsamic vinegar on the side for people to drizzle on their own, if desired.

Notes

  • This salad is best same day, as the avocados begin to brown rather quickly.
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