Picnic season is here! We’re enjoying a lovely spring here in Kansas City. Our homegrown tomatoes won’t be ready for a while, but I’m sharing my favorite picnic sandwich with you since I can find great tomatoes at the store now.
This Caprese sandwich recipe is inspired by the classic Caprese salad. It features ripe red tomatoes and sliced fresh mozzarella with the most irresistible creamy basil sauce. For extra flavor, I also added a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a small handful of arugula.
Sandwich all of that inside a crusty loaf of French baguette, and you will have a perfectly portable sandwich for picnics or road trips. Or, enjoy it at home for a quick meal from now through the end of tomato season this fall.
This tomato and mozzarella sandwich is a terrific vegetarian sandwich that offers a surprising amount of protein, thanks to the cheese. This recipe is my homemade rendition of my go-to sandwich at our local French café. They’ve just added it back to the menu, so I’m excited that I can order it there or make one at home. Now you can, too.
Caprese Sandwich Ingredients
Just remember—the better the bread and the tomatoes, the better the sandwich! Here’s what you’ll need:
French baguette is perfect for this sandwich, or you can use any high-quality bread you have at home already.
Homemade Creamy Basil Sauce
You’re going to fall in love with this sauce! It’s easy to whip together in the food processor, or by hand if you’d rather. You’ll need mayonnaise, fresh basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Leftover sauce makes a lovely veggie dip.
Thick Balsamic Vinegar
Tangy balsamic vinegar provides some irresistible contrast to the creaminess of the sauce and the mozzarella. We need to use a thick balsamic vinegar here (the regular runny kind will make your sandwich wet).
I love Napa Valley Naturals’ Grand Reserve Balsamic Vinegar—make sure you get the bottle with “25 stars” on it. It’s under $10 and typically available at Natural Grocers and other well-stocked grocery stores. Or, buy balsamic glaze (DeLallo makes one) or make your own balsamic glaze by gently simmering runny vinegar on the stovetop until it is reduced by half.
Arugula offers a light crunch and fresh, peppery flavor. I love it, but you can skip it if you don’t.
Use one ball of mozzarella, which is different from the part-skim block of mozzarella that you buy for pizza. For best flavor, opt for a mozzarella ball that is packed in water, rather than vacuum-sealed.
Specifically, look for medium-sized, juicy, red tomatoes. They will really shine in this sandwich.
Caprese Sandwich Serving Suggestions
Serve this sandwich with a side salad or simply some fresh fruit. Here are some complimentary salad options that also travel well:
- Farro and Kale Salad with Goat Cheese
- Favorite Quinoa Salad
- French Carrot Salad
- Tangy Lentil Salad with Dill & Pepperoncini
More Vegetarian Sandwiches to Enjoy
- Favorite Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Green Goddess Hummus Sandwich
- Tomato Jam and Mozzarella Panini
- Vegetarian “BLT” Sandwich
- Veggie Breakfast Sandwich
Please let me know how your sandwiches turn out in the comments! I love hearing from you.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 sandwiches
- Category: Sandwich
- Method: Toasted
- Cuisine: Italian
- Diet: Vegetarian
This Caprese sandwich recipe is perfect for picnics! This vegetarian sandwich features tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and creamy basil sauce. Recipe yields 2 large (as shown) or 4 medium sandwiches.
Two large or 4 smaller sandwiches
1 baguette (16 ounces)
1 tablespoon thick balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze*
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups baby arugula
1 mozzarella ball (8 ounces)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
Flaky sea salt or kosher salt
Creamy basil sauce (this makes extra**)
1 small or ½ medium clove garlic, roughly chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup (1 ounce) lightly packed fresh basil
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the bread in half lengthwise, then stack it back together and slice it down the middle to form two large sandwiches, or again to make 4 small. Place the sliced bread on a baking sheet with the cut sides facing up. Bake for 5 minutes, or until warmed through and turning lightly golden around the edges.
In the meantime, prepare the creamy basil sauce*: In a food processor, blitz the roughly chopped garlic to chop it more finely. Scrape down the sides, then add the mayo, basil, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, then set aside.
To assemble the sandwiches, lightly drizzle balsamic and olive oil over half of the cut sides of bread. Layer some arugula on top, then weigh it down with rounds of mozzarella. Top with the sliced tomato, then sprinkle the tomato lightly with flaky salt.
Spread the basil sauce generously over the cut side of the remaining slices of bread. Place them face down over the tomatoes. Enjoy.