cubed-hacked-caprese Recipes

cubed, hacked caprese

When it comes to off-the-cuff and mostly unplanned cooking, I have a tendency to do this thing that, depending on your perspective, is either a total shame or completely understandable: I don’t tell you about it. I’ll have thrown together a salad or a sandwich or some odd assortment of vegetables and couscous and made us lunch or dinner and Alex will say, “will you put this on your site?” and I’ll say “Of course not. Is there some shortage of recipes for sandwiches or roasted vegetables on the internet? Feh, it would be totally boring content.” [Yes, I actually talk like this. It’s embarrassing and I should keep to myself.]


Anyway, I made one of these Deb Dishes the other night and again snorted when Alex suggested I share it with you, until I was about three-quarters of the way done with mine and I realized that just because talking about caprese, or my own hacked version of it, isn’t exactly the height of cooking originality, doesn’t mean that someone wouldn’t enjoy eating exactly what we had in front of us.


So let’s talk about this cubed-up caprese salad I often make for barbecues or pot-lucks or whenever I want to eat something really summery without doing more than a lick of work: I dice mozzarella and tomatoes together, drain and rinse a can of white beans and toss it with a mixture of pesto (though slivered basil works in a pinch) and red wine vinegar and season it generously with salt and pepper. Sometimes I even add bits of proscuitto, if we have any around, and I’m feeling wild. Yes, revolutionary, I know.

pesto-addled caprese

But for me, this is more than a salad, it’s a springboard. Once you have this mix together, you can make a million different things with it and it was here — right here — that I decided to reconsider my Nobody Needs a Recipe for Caprese stance and talk it up anyway. Because there are so many places you can take this:

  • Our regular: Scoop it up with toasted bread that has been drizzled with olive oil and sea salt.
  • Toss 1/2-inch fresh bread cubes with olive oil and sea salt and toast them. Toss them in the salad for a petite panzanella-style salad.
  • Mound some of the salad on a piece of bread, top with another. Grill on a panini press.
  • Spread it on a unbaked pizza dough or flatbread and bake it at your oven’s top temperature for 10 minutes. Or toss that bread instead on the grill, because who needs to heat up the kitchen in the middle of August?
  • Toss cold, boiled pasta and extra dressing in it to make a pasta salad.
  • Mix boiled pasta into it and throw it in an oiled casserole dish and bake it at 375 until bubbly and golden.
  • Bulk it up: Add cubes of salami or cooked chicken, bits of olives, a handful of capers, bits of red onion, chopped sundried tomatoes or drained and diced canned artichoke hearts.

cubed, hacked caprese

Of course the beauty of the recipe as-is is that it requires no stove or oven to put together, which given the steamy, unrelenting sauna of the last two weeks ’round these here parts, explains why it’s having a Renaissance in our kitchen right now. But just when I thought another day of the dryer exhaust-like air might be the last straw, the humidity seems to have broken today, I ran several errands without needing six hours to recuperate — hallelujuah! — and I’m ready to go near that oven again. Should all go well, I’ll have not one but two new tomato-y recipes for you this week so stock up at the market; you’ll thank me later.

cubed, hacked caprese +toast

“Springboard” salads, previously: Black Bean Confetti Salad and Israeli Salad

One year ago: Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
Two years ago: Smoke-Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers

Cubed, Hacked Caprese

No, this is not a traditional caprese — there are beans, there’s pesto and even (gasp!) vinegar. But the flavor profile is nearly the same, with some added functionality (which makes it sound like I’m talking about an operating system, heh, and all the more fun to “hack”). Keep a container of this in the fridge and make a different lunch every day of the week with it, using the ideas above. Or eat it straight and lazily, as we do.

3/4 to 1 pound fresh mozzarella, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound peak-season tomatoes (I prefer roma for this because they’re less wet, but other varieties also work), diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed or 1 3/4 cups white beans that you’ve cooked fresh
1/4 cup pesto (or a handful of slivered basil plus 1/4 cup olive oil)
3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix and season and then reseason again to adjust to your taste. Eat at once or keep it in the fridge up to a few days (really, it will depend on how fresh your mozzarella is; the made-daily stuff is only good for a day or two, most others will last nearly a week).

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190 comments on cubed, hacked caprese

  1. Ohiogirl

    I love this!

    And I thank you for posting it because, in addition to it being lovely and useful, it makes me feel a tad less ashamed of my tomato/feta concoctions that happen in the summer in the hot hot days. Need a salad? Add cucumber. Want a sandwich? Add basil and drizzle the bread with olive oil. Or bake it on a pita.

    In the summer, creativity has no shame.

    Hope the great weather continues for you!

  2. Priscilla

    I think it’s a great idea, but honestly, i’m just posting because I’ve never been in the top ten of comments on your site. i love your recipes – I’m making your cream cheese brownies this weekend for my best friend, and you’re the first site I go to whenever i’m looking for something delicious. thanks for the inspiration. And I may add caprese salad for the menu this weekend.

  3. I make a variation of Caprese salad 3 times a week with delicious Jersey tomatoes in the summer.
    Sometimes beans, sometimes eggplant, sometimes roasted peppers.
    Always vinegar, and usually pesto!
    Love it and can’t get enough of it!
    Happy Summer! it’s almost over.

  4. tj

    …Gosh, I wanna just pick up that piece of bread in that photo and take a bite! This looks delish’ and I love all the different combinations you can do too. I do have to admit that the “hacked” part in the recipe title sounds a lil’ icky tho’

    …Thanks Miss Smitten!

    …Blessings… :o)

  5. I would’ve never thought to cube it like that! I like the idea of eating it with nice crusty bread. I’ve got all the ingredients in my kitchen and I was going to make an insalata caprese for lunch tomorrow but I might just do this instead!

  6. Ahhhh Caprese. Thanks to Ms Garten, I make what is basically a Caprese made better (as is everything when you add carbs). I blogged about it a few months ago, due mostly to the fact that it calls for halved grape tomatoes, which are delightful year round, tomato blight or no tomato blight. (Which I say flippantly simply because our West Coast tomatoes have been blessedly been spared.)

  7. Stephanie

    This is my go to summer recipe now that I live in an area where you just don’t want to turn on your oven some days! I eat a variation of this at least once a week – and this is coming from someone who can’t stand to eat the same thing more than once (no, I do NOT touch leftovers…well, in very rare circumstances) a month. You are so right though that a basic caprese recipe can be a springboard to soooo much more!

  8. My piddly little blog doesn’t compare to yours, but I often have the same “filter” in place regarding what I consider either post-worthy or mundane. Glad to know I’m in good company. :) This looks delicious, and I love that you’ve suggested so many variations.

  9. I’m glad you shared this recipe. Sounds delicious. I think I’ll try is on a pizza or flatbread. Or as is sounds perfect too. This makes me wonder what else you’re not sharing with us, that you should be ;)

  10. Amy

    Like I’m not already mourning the complete loss of my tomato crop due to terrible weather and late blight. :( I can’t believe that of the FORTY tomato plants I grew I won’t get a single tomato.

  11. Jeni

    See, the thing is, I have no idea what ‘caprese’ is so you’re doing a service – I come here to look at the pretty pictures, and learning happens!

  12. stephanie

    how fitting, i’m actually eating a version of this that i make right now! tomato & mozz, salt & pepper are always the base. i’ll use a few drops of italian dressing in a pinch. i usually throw in a cuke and a little red onion if i’m not in the mood to make out, but tonight i had some leftover artichoke hearts languishing in the fridge.

    so awesome, and i love the idea of the beans for a little more substance and protein!

  13. it’s so good with the beans n the pesto in it…..i make a similar looking salad with paneer and a mint pesto……mozarella n beans in this salad make it a stand alone meal…
    even i feel that my recipes are just suited for us cuz we have a personal sense of satiety associated with them…..but such things are good for everybody.

  14. Good heavens I am SO happy you posted this. It totally perked up my day because I recently started a no-grain diet and I was getting bored with that – so this made me HAPPY! (Do not underestimate the power of an easy-throw together type dish!!) It looks super delicious and I am trying it right away.

  15. This looks good. Simple food is best, no?

    I’m feeling the urge to pull out my big kettle and whip up a batch of mozzarella. (The tomatoes are already coming out my ears.)

  16. Pete

    Ironically, I made something much like this on Saturday but I used chickpeas instead of white beans. It was quite delicious and I can’t wait to try it again with all your suggestions! Thanks so much!

  17. Trisha

    Funny, how we always think we are the only ones that think the meal, if so easy, no one would be interested in it….or that everyone already knows about it.
    I love deconstructing menus, making them easier, or just to be different. This past weekend, I deconstucted a caprese salad as well. I cubed fresh mozzeralla and tomatoes, thinly sliced some red onion and basil, to that I added some balsamic vinegar and some good fruity olive oil. When I plated it, I added a bit of balsamic glaze, made it look a pretty….but it tasted the same….Yummy!!!

    While on the same subject: last night I deconstructed bagel and lox. I boiled spiral pasta, when that was cooked, I added sliced fresh smoked salmon, a bit of cream cheese, chopped dill, grated lemon zest and the juice of a lemon and some capers. It was a fast, easy and delicious dinner…and not that high in calories.

  18. I love this take on caprese, Deb! The beans and pesto are a lovely touch, and the mozzarella and tomato cubes are perfectly bite-sized. Chances are, we (your readers), are interested in pretty much everything you make – so please post those sandwich and salad recipes :)

  19. Love Caprese Salad but never thought about doing it this way. I just usually slice the tomato, cheese and toss on some basil leaves, but this way is certainly more transportable and refrigerator-able. The fresh basil pesto is the icing on the cake. Thanks for the great idea!

  20. Amy

    This type of recipe is exactly what I’m usually looking for when I come to your blog – how to turn veggies into a meal without a lot of effort. This type of food is all I’ve been eating in this weather…cucumber and tomato salad, roasted pepper and goat cheese sandwiches, green bean salad, etc. Thanks!

  21. Elise

    Caprese salad is one of my most favorite things in the world, and this is a fantastic twist on it. I also love your suggestions for what to do with it. I totally want to do the flatbread thing! And the panini one.

    Also I wanted to share that if you don’t have a panini press, you can still make wonderful paninis. Put the sandwich on a skillet, and wrap a brick in foil and put that on top of the sandwich to press it down. Alternatively you can use another skillet to weigh down the panini. We do that all the time cuz we don’t have a press. Yummy! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I’m so glad you decided to post this!

  22. I love these springboard dishes. I have a handful of them that come in handy in a pinch, that permit all varieties of herbs and veggies, and that shine with the right vinegar, oil or salt. Thanks, Deb!

  23. Teresa

    You may think this is nothing major, but it’s great to see how another cook puts together basics to make something familiar yet slightly different. I do various combinations of tomatoes, cheese, white beans and pesto or some concatanation of herbs and oil all the time, but for some reason all of them hadn’t hit a bowl together and it sounds brilliant.

  24. Gary

    Deb, thank you, this is perfect for the BBQ/pool party we are having in a few weeks. Do you have any other recipes you would suggest for a pool party? My only requirements are: light & summery, easy to bump up to serve 40-50 people, easy to prepare, and preferrably not ridiculously expensive ingredients.

  25. Megan

    Hi Deb! This is one of my favorite salads. I had a question about fresh mozzarella. They always ask if I want some water in the container at the deli counter when I buy it. Does keeping some water make it last longer or maintain it’s freshness?

  26. beth

    so very glad you decided to share this – i love tomatoes and mozzarella, and wouldn’t have thought to add white beans. or proscuitto! and the half-used jar of pesto in my fridge now has a new purpose. :) thanks for the inspiration.

  27. sabrina

    mmm. I make mine with steamed edamame, cubed mozzarella, and cubed tomatoes. Olive oil, salt, and plenty of cracked pepper is all you need… though maybe I’ll try adding some pesto next time!

  28. Thanks for posting this! I know you don’t want to overwhelm us with the mundane of “what you’re eating every day” but it’s nice to have a REMINDER of wonderful dishes such as this! I’ve been craving something “munchie” like this for dinner…SO GLAD you posted this b/c it’s what we’ll be having tonight! Maybe with some grilled shrimp…YUM!

  29. Susan

    I love meals like this because they are so non fussy. I make a version of this that adds fresh or leftover roasted zucchini diced in, uses red kidney beans, some fresh oregano and I serve it over rice. It’s one of my favorites in summer because the tomatoes are in season and it’s essential as that’s the main flavor of the dish. Roasted red pepper would be great in it too. Don’t hold back your simple meals, as we all need more ideas for these.

  30. I make this exact same salad but with slow-roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, slivered basil or pesto, and a teensy bit of balsamic vinegar and good olive oil, salt, and cracked pepper. If I’m feeling like it, I may toss in white beans or pine nuts.

  31. Never hold back, Deb! With 19 tomato plants in our garden, I’ve been a tomato cooking, eating and canning fool these days. I also have a truck load of basil plants that I’ve been turning into pesto and either freezing or eating ASAP. ‘Tis the season. This simple recipe reaches me in perfect timing and will get a lot of mileage in my kitchen. Plus, I didn’t have to wade through a gazillion recipes online to find it; it found me when I opened my email. Beautiful.

  32. Maja

    I love this recipe … the magic happened in adding pesto to beans, i never thought of that … Don’t underestimate simple recipes, do you realize that before reading about it on your site, i have never before heard od huevos rancheros? And you preceeded to making of them much like you preceeded to this salad. The minute i tested them, i fell in love with huevos rancheros and now i’m doing them in every possible way, in fact i just ate them today, used some farmer-made sheep cheese and instead of the tomato/beans/onion sauce i just smeared some ajvar on it. Thank you for sharing this and do listen to Alex when he thinks sth is post-it-material. :D Thanks from Slovenia! :)

  33. I’m the same way. I think it stops me from being more spontaneous with my cooking because I fear that if everything is an improvised, off the cuff dish I’ll have nothing to post about.

  34. I love caprese salad and have a ton of basil, so this recipe is very timely. I understand your hesitation to post, but if nothing else I love looking at your pictures and reading your posts!

  35. I love this recipe. It’s how I cook in the summer too. Salad, salad, salad and variations on a theme depending on what is ripe in the garden and our CSA box. Green beans, cherry tomatoes, olive oil and garlic; black beans, corn off the cob, peppers, onions, cumin, oil and lime juice and zest; grilled zucchini and red peppers with vinegar and oil; cucumbers tossed with dressing mixed in the bowl, coleslaw with what is in the fridge; raw summer squash marinated in vinaigrette….. These get piled on the plate, eaten with bread, thrown on pizza, tossed with protein….. It’s summer cooking.

  36. Beth

    Thanks for sharing your recipe and ideas. I have made caprese twice and just haven’t cared for it. I have not cared for the very fresh mozzarella. I like cottage cheese and tomatoes but for some reason the fresh mozzarella just didn’t taste right to me. However, I am going to try this again, but I think I will use a firmer mozzarella cheese. My kitchen table has been covered with home grown yummy heirloom tomatoes. I had sort of run out of ways to use fresh tomatoes. I have started roasting them with minced garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil and putting them in my freezer for later use.

  37. Megan

    I’m glad you decided to post this. New to your website, and not a kitchen diva by any means, but have always wondered if there was some other way than fresh basil to make a caprese salad, because although I don’t like fresh basil, I do love a good pesto. . . so this post has expanded my realm of possibility. Thanks!

  38. B


    Was so sure u were having the baby, since I didnt see a post in some time. this looks awesome and is goign on our dinner plate tonite


  39. Well, now I know what to get on my way home from work. I have just the tomato, vinegar and pesto, and we are in desperate need of a meal that will produce some tasty, tasty leftovers.

    Besides, I have to make your best layer cake tonight for a party on Sunday, so anything that will allow me to make dinner without both the oven and the stove on is aOK in my book!

  40. I, for one, am thrilled to hear about these types of throw-together recipes and i find that they inevitably aren’t as universal or boring as you think. you’re just used to eating it all the time so it seems banal, but i for one, am happy to have been given the idea of adding white beans to a caprese. also i like anything chopped. :)

  41. I love caprese salad, so any riffs that I haven’t concocted on my own always perk me up. I’d never thought of adding white beans, but that would make it a perfect combination of fruits, dairy, and proteins. Lovely. Thanks for taking a chance on us, and on your own thrown together dishes.

  42. Alice

    THANK YOU! I don’t know how common my demographic is to cooking blogs, but I’m a ridiculously lazy person when it comes to making food, even though I’m intrigued by hearing about other’s experiences with fancy meals. I simply adore hearing about hackable recipes that are stupid-easy, because those are the ones I’m likely to make. This sounds like something that’ll make its way into our sadly limited repertoire, and my family (and our tastebuds) thank you.

  43. Mmm…Deblicious!

    I just made some pesto a couple of nights ago so I appreciate you making this recipe just for me ;)

    In Ontario, our local tomatoes are all plump and seductive right now so all around, great timing!

    Thanks Deb!

  44. Michelle

    I’m always up for lazy salad and sandwich ideas. Usually I’m much more excited about those than fancy, time-consuming recipes. I’ve been doing cubed caprese salads a lot this summer, but I hadn’t thought to add white beans. I think this will be dinner at work this week!

  45. I was actually planning on making caprese salad tonight, but I might try it like this. I have two huges bunches of basil from my parent’s lasagna garden in vases in my kitchen just waiting to be turned into pesto. This looks delicious.

  46. This might be dinner tonight — with a Mexican twist. How about cubed tomatoes, black beans, cilantro pesto and chunks of feta?
    Sounds good and the components are already in the fridge (along with corn tortillas).

  47. Erika

    Deb – I make a lazy (wo)man’s caprese myself and am so excited to try all your variations! My favorite August time version includes steaming a couple perfect ears of corn from my local farmer’s market and cutting the kernals off and adding them to the salad. I dress it with olive oil whisked with a squeeze of lemon and some sea salt along with fresh basil. Keep the simple recipes coming!!!

  48. I love the endless variations that can be made with this recipe. This sounds especially fabulous combined with pasta and baked in the oven…I can just imagine all the melted cheese…delicious!

  49. Rhonda

    I love caprese anyway it can be done and the tomatoes are really great right now so I see another trip to the market. Your pictures are really drool-worthy. And don’t ever be put off about putting things you eat in front of us…they are happy accidents. Like one of those clean the frig out dishes that no one wants to admit to what it really was.

  50. Thanks a bunch Deb! I love your recipes so much and this one was perfect. It’s still boiling outside and this was perfect with pasta. Please don’t feel bad about ideas like this; I can’t iamagine you making anything unworthy of being on the blog.

  51. I loved hacked caprese! I made one the other day just like this, but took for panzanella approach and added the toated, cubed bread, in addition to some diced cucumbers for a crunch. Great idea to add pesto though. I used a lemon-basil vinaigrette instead.

    Thanks for sharing!

  52. Thanks for posting this! I just came across your blog and was very excited to see your version of caprese salad–I’m actually going to make it right now because I already have all the ingredients and some pesto that needs to be used.

  53. Thanks so much for sharing your “thrown together” salad. These are the meals I need in my house, when I get home from work and haven’t planned dinner and am too tired to deal with anything that takes much time. Also, I love how versatile this recipe is!

  54. Amy

    This looks delicious! Don’t worry about “boring” content, some of us need these springboard ideas! I never know what to make (not cook, mind you) in the summer, and my caprese is totally boring. I can’t wait to try this!

  55. Lori

    I make a similar “caprese” salad, but I haven’t used beans, and I add some red onion. I also usually drizzle some balsamic vinegar on it. I make another chopped Italian salad, using oranges, red onion, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and oregano. The best for summer!

  56. sam

    I’m so glad you posted this! I’ve been looking for a tried-and-true base for quick lunches and this is just the starting point I needed :)

  57. Annie

    Never ever think that “who needs a recipe for…” I just made a really basic caprese myself and brought it to my husband’s brother’s for cook out. His young bride asked me for a recipe. And I thought, “Ha, I guess some people needs recipe for everything.” I’m no magician like you in the kitchen, but I like to think I’m creative. But there are plenty of people who just cannot improvise in the kitchen.

    Thank you for a lot of lovely ideas and droolicious photos to motivate me turn on the oven in summer!

  58. Talitha

    Deb, you may be able to whip things together in a snap but there are many of us lurking at your site who are completely lost in the kitchen without a recipe. (Okay, so maybe it’s just me.) This type of recipe (er… guideline?) is EXACTLY the kind of thing I need to get comfortable with experimentation. I’m hoping that perhaps one day I won’t stare a fridge full of food and long for a recipe that magically calls for whatever happens to be in there.

  59. Mary Ann

    Hi Deb,

    Thank you for this recipe and the variations. I am “recipe challenged” and am just learning to think “out of the recipe box” when shopping. Your caprese sounds very good and the variations help me to change things as I see what is available at the market. Even though it is “simple” for you, it is valuable for me.

    Hope your weather remains humid-free and you are feeling well. Thinking of you, Alex, and baby. What a glorious fall/winter you will have with a new baby.

    My very best wishes for your health and happiness and thanks again for your ideas.

    Mary Ann

  60. Jendorf

    This is perfect, considering I have 18 tomatoes on my counter right now that we picked from my garden. . .I was wondering what to do with them, since my cilantro plant died and I can’t make salsa without it!!

  61. I’m eating it right now, thanks for the idea! Got to finish off some of these tomatoes. Had to go out back and cut a bunch of basil to make pesto, but it’s definitely worth it.

  62. You know, some of my favorite dinners are off-the-cuff. If the ingredients are fresh, the wine is good and the conversation is lively… that is half the beauty right there. And it’s pretty hard to beat tomatoes and basil fresh from the garden right now.

  63. I made this for supper tonight. First I made the mozzarella cheese (I give the kids little balls of the almost-done cheese and they get to shape it and then eat it) and then I picked three tomatoes from the garden and fetched a hunk of pesto from the freezer. My sister-in-law picked up a can of beans for me when she was in town. And then I realized that I really needed bread, but the loaves of sourdough were in the freezer and rock-solid, so I took the leftover 5-minute bread dough that was lounging in the fridge and rolled it out and fried it up in some olive oil and, TA-DA!, supper was served. And a very good supper it was! Thanks!

    1. deb

      I am so wow-ed by so many of you making your mozzarella at home! Question: Is your technique/recipe anything like this? Also: Can I come over? I mean, wouldn’t that be funny? “Honey, who’s that eating our food?” “Oh, she’s from the Adopt a Pregnant, Hungry Blogger program, don’t mind her!”

  64. I agree totally with Michaela from The Gardener’s Eden, but my tomatoes got the blight that’s going around the northeast after this miserable, cold, and rainly summer, and those that are not dead are dying.

    But I can agree totally with this idea – half the time I make Marcella’s tomato salad with chunks instead of sliced tomatoes because it is so much easier to eat.

    I am laughing about your wedding cake adventure. Rock on.

  65. Sheila

    Caprese’s are why I live for summer. I think about caprese’s all year until tomatoes are sweet and in season. I love this idea with the beans and pesto! I make a caprese pasta salad made with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, orchettie pasta, grated parmesan and homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Mmmmm… i could eat it ever day!

  66. I love this! I usually make the same thing with avocado, rather than white beans, but I like the white beans for durability. I can only make enough for two days if I use avocado. Great recipe!!!

  67. I’m so glad you ended up posting this. I made it for dinner :) Thank you so much for the work you do on this site, I’ve made several things now, or been inspired by your posts. Congratulations on your forthcoming little one :)

  68. pam

    oh it looks great! never would have thought to put the beans in. I know that little bebe is getting ready to make his/her entrance and while i’m thrilled for you, i’m already starting to feel sad that you may not be posting recipes as much. enjoy your little one tho…we’ll wait. :-)

  69. Kevin

    You know, I just don’t like the looks of this… I mean, look at the photo of the tomatoes and the cheese before the pesto is added — so bright, so summery! The finished product looks almost grey. The slivered basil / olive oil would be much prettier, don’t you think? Plus, using pesto you get the garlic taste which can be overpowering. I do like the chopped idea, and the portability of the finished product — maybe we’ll try this this weekend (without pesto). Maybe some basil – infused olive oil…

  70. Hi Deb, The caprese salad looks wonderfully delicious… and I just happen to have fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and basil in my garden…. But I have an unrelated question. You’ve mentioned your Blueberry Pie a several times… but
    I couldn’t find a recipe on your site. Will you share? I am on a
    mission to find and perfect the perfect blueberry pie… cheers, Calli

  71. Tamsin

    Thanks for sharing your idea Deb, I love caprese salad but I never thought of ‘hacking’ it. I’ve made your version for my packed lunch and can’t wait to try it!

  72. Wen

    Thanks! I’m looking forward to this – a great way to use up the multitude of tomatoes our neighbor and my MIL has given us! Pizza…. salad… yum…

  73. Sharilyn Unthank

    It looked so good and quick and versatile I stopped at grocery to get fresh mozzarella. Already had Farmers Market tomatoes and freshly made pesto. Added a little meat for my carnivorous hubby and left it out for my vegetarian daughter. Perfect! Delicious! Again thanks for a delicious recipe!!

  74. Courtney

    I really appreciate you posting recipes/guidelines such as this. As a fairly new cook, it is inspiring to see simple things like this and starts the process of thinking about how to do these things on my own. I am not sure if that makes sense, but so often I am focused on following a recipe to the ‘t’ that it is nice to stop and see creations such as this in order to start to think about the process more instead of just following instructions. Thanks for your continued inspiration!

  75. I made this last night, without the beans, I added cubes of proscuitto and just heaped it on sliced baquettes and let it melt under the broiler for a few mins, it was awesome! My neighbor stopped by and wanted to know what the wonderful smell was coming from my front porch, thank you for your awesome recipes!

  76. See I found that interesting the only deviation I’ve ever made with Caprese is to make mini-caprese and put it into puff pastry for an appetizer….. oooohhhh wild. :) I’ll give it a shot because while I can still use the oven (thank you central air and a mild mid-west summer) it looks quick… and what I don’t have these days is time. :) Enjoy your respite from the humidity.

  77. Amber

    I’ve never posted before but this has all the things I love and nothing I don’t. And of course I love your blog. It’s the first food blog I’ve ever read and now my favorite. Thanks and good luck with the bebe.

  78. Rebecca

    Deb, please, PLEASE keep posting your off-the-cuff recipes for us! This one looks great. And one of my favorite of your recipes so far is the zucchini saute, because it is DELICIOUS, easy, and gets me to eat more veggies. More of these will always be welcome :-)

  79. Sarah

    Please put more of these on your site!! I just moved to the island of Grenada and living in a dorm, without a kitchen. Needless to say I am going through withdrawal from my kitchen and the usual culinary staples I had living in San Francisco. Recipes like this remind me I don’t have to eat out everyday and I can still assemble delicious and healthy meals in my room. Please inspire me some more. Thanks!!

  80. tara

    my two cents–like many who have commented already, i’d LOVE to see more simple everyday recipes! while they may not be groundbreaking, they are always helpful for inspiration when i just can’t decide what to cook, or can’t think of a single thing i’d like to eat. my favorite recipe of yours is the black bean tacos, inspired by a 10 minute meal!!!!

  81. Yennie

    Hi Deb. My teenaged sister, who’s quite the baker, cook, and photographer herself, came to spend the summer with me and my boyfriend in San Francisco. She introduced us to your website and I just wanted to let you know that the three of us have had so much fun making dozens of yummy recipes from smittenkitchen. We dropped my sister off at the airport this morning to head back to Madison for her sophomore year in college. Thank you so much for your great meal ideas and the lovely memories!

  82. cathy

    I am just toasting some bread in the oven right now…already made the hacked caprese. Cannot wait. It’s these kind of simple, yet inspirational recipes I love most. I had all the ingredients already!
    Thank you.

  83. Psyche1226

    I can’t believe I never thought of this. Growing up, it was always my “company’s-coming-over” job to throw together the ritual caprese that my Mum was so fond of…and yes, we naughtily splashed balsamic over it every time. ;)

    This is the first time I’ve commented, after discovering your blog about three months ago. Words fail me in describing my rapture. KEEP…IT…UP!!

  84. these are the recipes i like the most because that is the only kind of cooking i do? i am not very talented at following long recipes and the less ingredients, the better! i tend not to keep a lot of “staples” that most cooks would always have on hand…i’m an admitted non-cook and i love all your great “boring” recipes!

  85. Isn’t it funny when we have recipes like this that we really don’t even consider recipes? it’s just something we’ve always thrown together that is a standard in our kitchen. I’m glad that you shared it :)

  86. Paula

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I had plenty of tomatoes on my counter a few days ago and didn’t have any idea what to do with them. The next time I’ll be ready :)

  87. Made this tonight with two pints of grape tomatoes (quartered), 1.06 pounds of fresh mozz, and a little less than one tub of fresh pesto from Whole Foods. I tried salting/draining the tomatoes before adding them, since they were so damp. I got a couple of tablespoons of liquid out, so at least when I added the vinegar the whole thing didn’t become soup. I separated out three servings to bring for lunch with coworkers tomorrow. For the remaining two (massive) servings, I cubed a bunch of slices of kalamata olive bread, toasted them at 350 until mostly dry (no oil or anything — just the bread) and tossed them in with the can of beans. The fella and I ate like kings and there is quite a lot to bring tomorrow (I think I’ll toast some bread to bring in a baggie). Fantastic recipe to make on a 90 degree day like today! Thanks, Deb!

  88. Brilliant. Just made this for dinner with some bread drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt then broiled for a few minutes to toast. We ate outside while we fed our little girl fresh cooked summer squash. Mmm the perfect summer evening. Thanks for the inspiration!

  89. Sarah

    I, like many, am thankful you posted this. In fact, I have not made a Caprese salad before. Sorry you are sweltering; it is again unseasonably cool in the Midwest. Almost our whole summer has been in the 70’s (very strange).
    We have lots of yummy tomatoes in our garden, which we have been devouring with utmost pleasure. I will hold back a little to see your upcoming posts!
    P.S. Loved the arugula, potato and green bean salad! It was even more divine that I grew the vegetables myself.

  90. Lauren

    OMG, I’ve been looking at your blog for about a year now, but ever since I’ve been pregnant it’s been making me drool. It’s like you have exactly the same cravings that I do.

    This looks and sounds amazing, I wish I had all the ingredients to make it this very minute.

  91. Mandy

    I make something similar, with the basil leaves instead of pesto and a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and lemon zest. garbanzos work as well as pinto, and I sometimes throw in some raw corn cut off thecob as well as corn scrapings. I love the variations you posted – I’m going to have to try some of those! Thanks for this and the rest of your awesome, awesome blog :-)
    – Mandy in RI (where tomatoes are iffy at best)

  92. Amy

    I’m so glad you posted this! I grew up eating Kraft Mac&Cheese, so I’m still learning what’s out there. I made this the day you posted it. I used chickpeas instead of white beans and ate it on toasted rosemary bread the first night, then put it on a pizza crust the second night – it’s amazingly good as pizza.

  93. I was happy to read that you usually figure “who needs a recipe for this thrown-together weeknight deal,” b/c just yesterday I talked to a friend about how odd I find the idea of copyrighting recipes for easy dishes we throw together all the time. Any of us, I wager, could come up with a recipe for say linguine w/ pesto, and it would probably be a) flexible and b) identical to any number of copyrighted recipes… because there’s just not much to making linguine w/ pesto!

    FWIW, I profiled a local woman who makes mozzarella—this is how she does it.

  94. I love this! I am a sucker for a caprese salad and love beans …. but I never thought to put them together! I only wish that I had some pine nuts in the house so I could have made up some fresh pesto…. a nice big bunch of basil was still delicious though


  95. Meg

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was the perfect summer meal! I forgot to buy beans, so I just added extra tomatoes and I used balsamic instead of red wine vinegar. Served it with crusty bread and prosciutto. SO GOOD!

  96. I’m glad you decided to grace us with your “boring” food. Haha I’m glad because I, too, and probably everyone else out there, often come home from work utterly exhausted, and it being too hot to cook anything, can’t think of a good thing to eat. And to be honest, I’m getting kind of tired of macaroni and cheese. :) So thanks for sharing! :)

  97. I have similar conversations like that with my boyfriend. A few bites into every meal he asks, “are you blogging about this?” And most of the time I say “no this is boring” or “no, this is so obvious,” but then he points out that as obvious as it may be to *me*, there are probably plenty of people who wouldn’t think of it.

  98. LCS

    Thank you for the recipe.

    I make something similar. I skip out on the beans, because I don’t have any and I generally don’t like beans. Also, instead of red wine vinegar. I use a mixture of olive oil and whatever vinegar I have on hand, which is usually just white vinegar or Japanese saki vinegar. As for the cheese, I use what I have on hand.

    And if I don’t have any cheese, I just shove my everything into the oven at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes for roasted tomatoes.

    Thanks again.

  99. Gail

    Thank you for posting a ‘boring, what I eat every night” recipe, since that is what we all have to DO every night, usually w/o much in the way of time, inspiration, or ingredients. But in the summer tomatoes and mozz are usually in the house – this is a great idea. I make a similar version with cubed mozz, tomatoes, toasted bread, oil, vinegar, and garlic, & black olives. Love the idea of subbing pesto. And the ideas for how to change it up a bit (over pasta, etc) are terrific.

    Thanks for a great blog. Will you keep going after your baby comes? Please do! And if you end up having to avoid certain foods while nursing, please (oh god, really, please) post interesting non-dairy meal ideas. I couldn’t have dairy when I was nursing my last baby and it was so hard to find good foody-food ideas that appealed to me in my cranky, non-dairified state.


  100. Heidi

    I made this using slivered basil and serving it with bread. I ate it obsessively for two days. I made it again yesterday. I am about to go eat it for lunch in 15 minutes. This provides me the excuse I’ve been wishing for to eat nothing but caprese for dinner. I sent the link to all my friends and family – love it!

  101. This was an excellent way to use leftover items in my kitchen! I mixed the chopped mozzarella and cherry tomatoes with a walnut pesto, and piled it on top of a FreshDirect pizza dough with some browned spicy italian sausage sauteed with a little garlic. When it came out of the oven (looking fabulous and very colorful!) I added arugula to the top. Delicious! Thanks for being a great inspiration and welcome distraction from the workday!

  102. Annelise

    I am always looking for simple, healthy dishes that travel well so that I can take them to work for lunch. This was perfect. Thanks for the tip about Roma tomatoes. I used those on the 1st day and then swtiched to heirloom which were much more watery.

  103. I disagree with one thing you said. There might not be a shortage of sandwiches or roasted vegetables on the internet but that doesn’t mean we all make them the Deb way! Sometimes I post boring dishes with my own little twist just because I do it my way and I like to share that with readers.

    But only if it’s photogenic!

  104. Lauren

    There is never too much caprese! Thanks for the pesto and white beans suggestion. I’m a huge fan of mozzarella and tomatoes, but hadn’t thought of incorporating those ingredients. Excellent!

  105. Kara

    Thanks for this version! And please don’t filter all of your quick/easy meals — it’s great to have inspiration for the days that an afternoon of kitchen experimentation isn’t possible (though those days are lovely!). This looks like a great weekday lunch recipe!

  106. Kristen

    omg. omg. omg. ok, i’m sitting here eating this and i had this sudden urge of jealousy. jealousy, why? because of the pending baby smitten arriving soon..thinking of all of the wonderful meals, creations, and spontenaity this little one will be enjoying? or because i can’t create any modicum of food genius without having a book open and pouring over the ingredients?? all of the above! this caprese concoction is AMAZING!!!! i can’t believe that i am eating tomatoes, and enjoying them. these flavors mesh so well, i am…smitten. a big thank you to alex for encouraging deb to share this creation with the rest of us who aren’t as creative with just casually, on a whim throwing genius together.

  107. Ellen

    Just found out about your site last night at a Labor Day picnic – she brought Peach cupcakes that were awesome and really different – found you today and can’t wait to use that fresh mozz I bought on Saturday to make a chopped hacked caprese salad. Love the idea of the white beans in there too. Will be looking forward to more really creative ideas!

  108. stephanie

    I made this for my dinner and it is so so tasty. I had been making big batches of greek salad and i am completely sick of them for now. So this recipe came in just in time!!! I made it the exact way you did and its amazing.

    I love the simple-throw-together ideas the best because i can run out and make it right away. keep them coming!! (ps i already made the roasted tomatos and onions one. also great)

  109. Sally

    This is SO good! Tastes like summer. I made it with olive oil and fresh basil from my back yard and ate a huge bowl of it right away, but know it will be even better after the flavors blend. Be sure and tell us all your quick but tasty ideas; we are more likely to actually cook them. : )

  110. Kate

    I’ve never posted anything on your site before, even though I have tried some of the recipes and they were really good. But I’ve gotta tell you this is wonderful. I added artichoke and ate it with bread. I added some pasta to the rest of it and it is currently in the oven (not yet bubbly).

    Thanks for the great recipes!

  111. Fyfe

    I made this last night for me and my boyfriend, i mixed it with some lightly toasted bread and it was phenomenal. I can’t wait to have tiny bit of leftovers tonight! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  112. I’m making this tonight for dinner. I looked for regular pesto in the grocery store but only found sun-dried tomato pesto before my short patience ran out. It actually turned out pretty well regardless! Well, we’ll see I suppose. The other opinion (the boyfriend) has yet to taste it.

  113. Siobhan

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have made it about five times now and I love it. And love the site and congratulations on your new arrival!

  114. Colleen

    I was looking for a recipe that doesn’t take a lot of work on this hot summer day. This is perfect! I want to enjoy the company and be in the kitchen all night. Thank you!

  115. Etta

    This stuff is totally awesome, Hubby made it tonight, no pesto, but added black olives. Very good, and now I get to have it for lunch tomorrow too!

  116. Making the caprese salad on Monday. Or, my daughter is. I have to work until 8pm and she has to make her own supper (she’s 18). This will be yummy. We just got some fresh cucumbers from someone and we have ripening tomatoes outside! Also, we have a store in town that sells really fresh mozzarella!

  117. Paige

    Deb, I also made this one this weekend. And since it’s not quite tomato season I used (cringe) canned tomatos…it wasn’t as good as fresh, but it was still fantastic! Thanks forr all the great recipes!

  118. Sally

    Just want to thank Alex again for encouraging you to put this on your site. I found some fresh basil and half-way decent tomatoes this morning at the store, and this salad immediately came to mind! Can’t wait for lunch!

  119. sally sherman

    Discovered Smitten Kitchen just last night waiting to hear if Uncle Sam was going to stay open for business. You have a new fan, I’m sold. The hacked caprese salad will probably be made tonight, w/grilled chicken. When using tomatoes in general, I find cherry tomatoes to be most flavorful year-round (someone once termed them the M&M’s of the tomato world). Next weekend, it’s corn bread salad, which I can’t get off my mind. We have just one upscale market nearby, but it does carry heirloom tomatoes. Later today, it’s back to Smitten Kitchen to check out lots of other delish things to try!

  120. Akitar

    I made this today for a Memorial Day Weekend BBQ. I didn’t have a lot of prep time so came across this when looking for a salad to throw together. Super easy ingredients, took me a couple minutes to throw it together, and it was demolished at the BBQ! It was a perfect potluck dish (portion-wise) for a gathering of about 15 people.

  121. Julia Hobbs

    Ok, I know this was posted almost 2 years ago, but I am currently drooling all over my keyboard at this recipe! It may not be original but seriously, I have never seen it served this way! I am totally making this for my birthday lunch on the 26th ( I know that might sound weird but I LOVE food and cooking, so for me its fun :)) I am on a no diary diet right now due to an allergy and this recipe is the first time I have REALLY wanted cheese!

  122. Mia

    I just made this for a meatless dinner paired with a rice pilaf and toasts. This was amazingly delicious! I use a lot of recipes from your website, and I must say I am never disappointed. Thank you!

  123. carol

    Was looking for an easy side/appetizer for a 4th of July party, this is it! BTW, my 10 year old loves to help in the kitchen and when asked by a friend how to make a recipe he helped me with, he responded by saying, “go to and look for the recipe, then…” :)

  124. Carol

    I found this recipe yesterday morning and was eating it by lunch. It is heavenly! I’m not one to riff on a recipe until I know it really well, so your ideas of what to do with it are just dancing in my head. Thank you for a few days of lovely lunches!

  125. Sarah L

    We do a similar recipe, but toss in cooked tortellinis (or other pasta) hot right off the stove. It slightly cooks the tomatoes and melts the cheese wonderfully. It’s perfect warmish or cooled to room temperature, and is the ideal summer meal!

  126. Susan A.

    A very clever recipe! I am eating it right now. Thanks for making me go out in my garden, pick the basil and make the pesto I have been planning to make all summer. I love your blog. Everything I have made from it is wonderful.

  127. Emily

    When I first saw this recipe, I immediately thought “MUST MAKE NOW!!” I made the version with the bread cubes, and I loveeee how they soaked up the pesto vinaigrette and how well the ingridients meshed. Also, I used mozzerella pearls (because my mom is lazy), but still delicious, which is coming from an almost 15 year old foodie.

  128. Loved this! I was having a huge caprese salad craving (that’s totally normal, right?), and wanted to bring it for lunch this week, but I didn’t think it would quite tide me over ’til dinner. Then I found this recipe, and it was perfect! Absolutely delicious, and protein-packed to boot. I’ll be making it again, I’m sure.

  129. My daughter sent me this recipe after I posted a photo of a basketful of tomatoes I just picked from my garden. Eureka!! I’ve finally found a caprese recipe that I can “scoop, pile, spread, or simply SPOON” into my mouth! I love caprese, but have always found the sliced version a bit cumbersome. I must admit that I’ve been sneaking spoonfuls of this throughout the day – and then enjoy it on grilled sourdough for dinner! I added diced zucchini that I also picked that day, and a bit of balsamic…just because I love it!

  130. Miriam

    Thanks for sharing. I made this without the white beans (unavailable here). I’m an American expat and I often can’t find basil where I live. When I do it’s often a different kind – with small, blackish-purple leaves. Using jarred pesto is a great work around but until I read this I hadn’t figured out how to make it more liquidy to coat the salad properly. (Water and olive oil don’t work well. Vinegar does!) So in case all the comments above hadn’t convinced you that your “everyday” recipes are helpful too – thank you so much for posting this!!!

  131. Joanna

    Yes!!! This is exactly what I was looking for to use up some amazing tomatoes from our latest CSA share. Please post more of these wonderful off-the-cuff creations. Never underestimate the positive impact that your ideas, both big and small, have on the health and well-being of countless strangers. Thank you!