The Italian Salad You Should Never Order During Winter

If you're cooking up a big pot of pasta for dinner, you may also be inclined to make a caprese salad as a side. Since all you need to do is slice up some tomatoes and mozzarella, this is an easy, delicious side dish to prepare on a busy night. With its juiciness from the tomatoes and freshness of the basil, it's no surprise these salads are so popular. We consider it one of the simple salads you should know how to make, but there's a time and place for a caprese salad to be on the dinner table.

If it's in the thick of the winter, don't rush to grab tomatoes for caprese salad. Even if you're in a restaurant, stay away from ordering this off the menu. Although you might think that chefs can always get fresh tomatoes, professional chefs stay away from dishes that use out-of-season ingredients.

For Eat This, Not That!, Chef Brian Motyka said, "When I see that classic Caprese salad in the middle of winter, I avoid that at all costs." Instead, Motyka vouches for fruits and vegetables that are local and in-season, making caprese salad a no-go in the fall and winter. Instead of eating tomatoes in January, check out these 19 winter vegetables and how to cook with them.

Here's when you should actually be ordering caprese salad

So when is the right time to make and enjoy a caprese salad? According to Food Network, tomatoes are in season from May to October, though that varies depending on your region. You'll find the best tomatoes in the summer, asĀ Greatist narrows tomato season down to June through August. If you start to see tomatoes at your local farmer's markets, that's a good time to buy some.

At the end of the day, the freshness of the tomatoes matters more than what type of tomato you're using for a caprese salad. The Washington Post emphasizes the importance of making this salad in the summer, when tomatoes are in-season, but say you can use red slicing tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or grape tomatoes as well.

And you can always grow your own tomatoes in your backyard. Tomatoes make our list of the best vegetables to grow if you've never gardened before, and once they're grown, with a little basil you've got caprese salad whenever you want.