Caprese Salad with Fig Balsamic Dressing


If there is one type of dish that makes me miss not growing tomatoes this year it would be a salad.  A bowl of pasta tossed in a simple tomato-based sauce is a close second, but I can usually come up with easy substitutes like capers, olives or anchovies to add substance to pasta in the absence of good tomatoes.  But an everyday salad?  I look longingly at the empty spot where ripe tomatoes would normally be abundant this time of year; my salads are never the same without them.



When I had a craving for a caprese salad and happened to have all the ingredients available at home, I hesitated only briefly at the prospect of using a regular grocery store tomato.  My tomatoes were neither homegrown nor plucked from a basket full of specialty heirloom varieties at the market; my mozzarella cheese wasn’t fresh from the neighborhood deli either though I had a nice bunch of organic fresh basil.  Don’t think me a snob for being so selective–since I’ve learned to cook I’ve heard or read countless times that if your dish contains only a few ingredients you must use the best you can get.  When a trio of simple ingredients is the cornerstone of a good caprese salad and I find my inventory a little lacking, I thought it best to compensate for it in the dressing.

Enter the figs.  Thanks to a fun jam-making session with my blogger friends I have a pantry full of Fig-Balsamic Jam, as well as a jar of fig butter from Trader Joe’s.  I decided to experiment and reduced some balsamic vinegar with fig butter (fig jam would work equally well).  Besides the balsamic vinegar thickening up just a little and concentrating in flavor, the fig added more depth and a little sweetness to the simple dressing I tossed together with olive oil and garlic.

The fig-balsamic dressing masked the blandness and infused the sweetness lacking in my tomatoes.  Minimal effort paid a big reward in this impromptu lunch and when I happened to glance outside at my yard, I didn’t miss as much the tomatoes I didn’t grow this year.

* Here’s a bite-size version of a caprese salad from the archives.  Perfect for a party!




5.0 from 5 reviews
Caprese Salad with Fig Balsamic Dressing
What could be simpler than a Caprese Salad? Make it just a bit more special with Fig-Balsamic Dressing.
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 1-2
  • *For the Dressing* (This should be enough for one or two servings but feel free to double according to these proportions)
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Fig Butter or Fig Jam (I had an open jar of TJ Fig Butter so that's what I used)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
  • *For the Salad*
  • 1 large tomato per person, 3 thick slices
  • 2 thick slices mozzarella
  • Fresh Basil leaves, a couple plus more to chiffonade for garnish.
  1. To prepare the dressing: Combine the balsamic vinegar and fig butter in a small saucepan and turn up the heat to medium. Stir to dissolve the fig butter and cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture has reduced by a quarter. Transfer to a bowl and add the garlic and olive oil. Whisk until thickened and emulsified.
  2. To prepare the salad, stack the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil starting with a tomato slice and alternating until you end up with a third tomato slice. Drizzle with the dressing (a little is all you need) and garnish with basil chiffonade.


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  1. O.M.G.! This is calling my name for dinner – all I need to do is run out to buy the fig butter or jam! Absolutely beautiful!!!

  2. Love Caprese salada and I love your twist with the figs. I do miss growing tomatoes too but the critter in my yard more often than not get to them first. Beautiful post as always Jean! Shulie

  3. My favorite salad, snack, lunch, dinner!! But I really really need to try this dressing… and I have fig jam!

  4. Jean, what a brilliant use of the fig jam in this dressing and salad! I’m definitely making this tomorrow!!

  5. This looks irresistible!

  6. Such a beautiful salad, Jean! I love the fig balsamic – what a tasty twist on a classic!

  7. Oooooh I love Caprese salads. Going to go buy some fresh figs when I finish work and try this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. This is such a gorgeous salad! I love the presentation!

  9. What a gorgeous stack of fresh and delicious salad you got there. I am drooling over that dressing. Have a good week, Jean! 🙂

  10. Scrumptious looking and very beautifully presented!



  11. Hi Jean,
    Wow I love what you have done to an ordinary caprese salad. This is such a great recipe, I can’t wait to try it. Love, love it:)

  12. Yum! I’ve been putting fig balsamic on salads all Summer(it’s so good) but I like your recipe for extra figgy balsamic dressing:-) I’m sure it’s delicious in Caprese salad, beautifully plated Jean;-) I think I have a jar of Lisa’s balsamic fig jam floating around somewhere in my pantry!

  13. Figs and tomatoes (and corn) yep. It’s my favorite time of the year. GREG

  14. That dressing sounds intriguing. Caprese salad is my favourite. I am looking forward to having it in a few weeks when we visit Italy. Their mozzarella is so much better than ours.

  15. this one is always a winner, especially with great new twists like this fig balsamic

  16. I can imagine how good it will be with the fig balsamic dressing. This is one of the salads that’s always on our table. Your idea is great!

  17. Wow, your pics are fantastic! It looks like I could take a bite through my screen. Great job.

  18. A beautiful salad Jean and even tho I don’t eat my salad with dressing I’d love to try the fig balsamic. I love fig jam.

  19. Sounds delightful, and I agree that you should use the very best ingredients when you’re making something simple. I never thought of pairing figs with tomatoes – did the balsamic dressing taste heavily of the figs?

    And fig butter? Sign me up!

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Hi, Holly. No, not at all. The fig was just another (subtle) layer of flavor–didn’t overpower at all. 🙂

  20. The star of this dish is definitely your fig balsamic dressing! And I have unopened Trader Joe’s Fig Butter!! I was going to use it with cheese and crackers but I haven’t used it since I bought it 3 weeks ago! I guess we’ll be having this before eating with cheese and cracker. Thank you very much for this recipe. I’m in love with this recipe already imagining myself eating it. Yum.

  21. This looks incredible! Also, I would love to have the sandwich in your header for my lunch TODAY!

  22. Basil, tomato and mozzarella are by far the best 3 ingredients together in my opinion. My first experience with these ingredients was on a cruise ship and they had a Panini with these amazing 3 ingredients drizzled with a pesto olive oil. After that, I fell in love. Adding balsamic does sound like a great idea too. This is also a more figure friendly version to what I had. Seems like a very fresh lunch on a warm summer day. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Usually my kids run away from eating vegetables but now I feel that your recipe is a good way of serving vegetables in the form of Caprese Salad with Fig Balsamic Dressing….

  24. the dressing looks garlic essential or can we skip using garlic?

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      The garlic adds another layer of flavor and brightness to the dressing but you can probably skip it. 🙂


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