Five-Ingredient Lunch: Caprese Salad

Caprese salads are beautiful on their own and great for adding to a fancy dinner, but because there is so little prep involved I think they’re totally underrated as a lunch item. Plus, there’s no cooking involved and almost no work.

If the ingredients are fresh, this salad will stand on its own as a meal and be a real treat for your lunch at work. Here’s what you need:

  • Half a large beefsteak or hothouse tomato (the Bob the Tomato kind, not Roma)
  • FRESH mozzarella – if you buy one of the little balls, you’ll probably use about 1/3… store brand is totally fine.
  • Any salad greens you have on hand
  • Basil leaves
  • Balsamic vinegar

When it comes to salad greens, I’ve read that it’s actually bad to keep them with your other veggies in the fridge – that in a regular crisper drawer they’ll go bad first and bring the other veggies down with them. Ergo, I like to wash them right when I get them, and then dry them, tear them up to bite size and put them in a big tupperware. Every time I need a salad or a little bit of lettuce, I can just grab a handful and they’re already ready to go. They’ll keep longer this way, too.

So, grab your lunch-sized container and your greens, and tear up the basil and add it.

Then slice an equal number of tomato and mozzarella pieces. I tend to go pretty thick here – probably a little over 1/4 inch. Lay them down the middle of the container, alternating cheese and tomato. You don’t have to do it this way, but it’s kinda pretty:

Then, my friends, grab your balsamic. This is something worth spending a little bit more on – you don’t have to get the 100-year-old stuff or anything, but I’d look at the cheapest bottle your neighborhood store has, and then go up a price point or two. Balsamic has a million uses in your kitchen and it’s worth your time and extra $2 to get a good one. We have this one, which I’m not actually sure how old it is, and also a great 25-year one we got as a housewarming gift (which, by the way – fancy oils and vinegars are great for that!)

Finally, season with a little freshly ground pepper on a larger size setting. I know it’s not on the ingredients list, but if it’s something you’ll never run out of, I don’t think it counts 🙂

It’s light enough to make you feel great about your lunch, cheesy and filling enough to not make you hungry later, and fancy enough to make you look forward to making it for you or for friends.

Also, I just have to say… we made a few really, really great projects this weekend and I’m really excited to share them this week. Check back for homemade pop tarts and homemade horchata!

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