“Constructed” Caprese Salad

Try your next Caprese salad in a neat little shell of a homegrown tomato! Scoop out the tomato pulp and toss it with with mozzarella pearls, blue cheese crumbles, and basil chiffonade. Drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette!

We live in the mountains in Idaho in the summer and we have never, ever been able to grow more than 15 or 20 cherry tomatoes for a whole summer’s worth of effort. It’s just too cold in the mornings. And, it’s so disappointing because there is almost nothing better than homegrown tomatoes! We’ve tried wheeling the pots in and out of the garage every single day in a little wagon, which was a lot of work and never resulted in anything close to a “harvest”! But, this year, we finally invested in a greenhouse, and with the help of a friend who gave us some starter tomatoes from his garden, we had what we consider a bumper crop! It was so exciting we could hardly stand it!

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“Constructed” Caprese Salad
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“Constructed” Caprese Salad

As we were contemplating what to do with all of the beautiful tomatoes, my son Joel came up with the idea of a hollowing out the tomatoes and stuffing them with all the fixings of a Caprese salad neatly tucked back into the tomatoes. And, so that is exactly what we did and they are so much fun to eat, they look festive on the plate and they are wildly delicious! We used the pearl mozzarella balls and an extra sprinkling of crumbled blue cheese, but you could also try burrata or feta if you prefer those cheeses!
Try using a grapefruit spoon to hollow out the tomato, because it can get into to the round sides of the tomato much better than a serrated knife. Be sure to save the scooped tomato pulp to toss with the other ingredients before stuffing the tomato for serving.
Servings 6


  • 6 vine-ripened garden-fresh tomatoes 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls small rounds of fresh mozzarella
  • 4 basil leaves snipped into small julienne or chiffonade
  • 2 tablespoons or about 1 ounce crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil*
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar* *or your favorite vinaigrette dressing
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Garnish: extra basil leaves


  • Hollow out tomatoes using a grapefruit spoon or serrated knife. Place tomato “shells” on a plate and the tomato pulp in a mixing bowl. You may need to slice off a little bit from the bottom of the tomato to allow it to sit flat on the plate.
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  • To the tomato pulp, add the mozzarella pearls, crumbled blue cheese, and basil, and gently toss. Sprinkle lemon pepper, salt, and pepper over the mixture and drizzle olive oil and vinegar over the top. Gently toss again.
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  • Fill the tomato cavities with the Caprese mixture and pack it down with the bottom of a spoon. Garnish with small basil leaves and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made a couple of hours ahead of time.
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Hollow out the tomatoes with a grapefruit spoon to create your mini salad bowl!

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“Constructed” Caprese Salads

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