A Pseudo-Caprese Salad

August  5, 2014

As a defiant response to Sad Desk Lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches -- and we want to see yours, too.

Today: When you don't have mozzarella or tomatoes, improvise: Editorial Intern Taylor Schwartz shares a pseudo-caprese for when you need a salad that's more composed than you are. 

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A classic caprese salad -- with juicy tomatoes and rich mozzarella -- is what you turn to when all you want to do is eat cheese for lunch and call it a salad for reasons of dignity. But upon opening the fridge, you come to the sad realization you don't have basil. Or mozzarella. Or tomatoes, because you're too greedy with ripe summer produce to keep it around for more than a day. So you admit defeat, abandon the caprese, and eat half a jar of almond butter and a handful of raisins instead. This is a cycle I know far too well.

More: Polish off that nut butter with a stick of celery for a more rounded (and inner child-approved) lunch

Luckily, caprese can be easily faked as it really only requires four ingredients: good olive oil, soft fruit, cheese, and seasoning. I usually have ricotta on hand, and can scavenge some sort of fruit from the produce bowl I keep on display to feign good health -- peaches and plums have become popular additions as of late. I thinly slice the fruit, fan it on a plate, and layer on a healthy amount of cheese. I finish the salad with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of flaky salt, and whatever nuts I have leftover from when I made (read: improvised) Genius granola the night before. 

How do you adapt your caprese -- and your lunch -- when you don't have the right ingredients? Tell us in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • vera
  • lunalovegood
Student, aimless wanderer of grocery store aisles, almond butter's number one fan.


vera August 11, 2014
last night I cut open a honey melon - fragrant, yellowish-green and juicy but NOT sweet at all. I squeezed some lemon juice over it, sprinkled salt and ground black pepper, olive oil and dried thyme... wonderful !
lunalovegood August 5, 2014
I love watermelon with mozzarella, basil or mint, sea salt, and a drizzle of olive oil. Feta or Goat cheese is also good. And of course, I add tomatoes, too, if I have them :) Strawberries are good, too!