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Organic, Real Food on a Budget – Caprese Salad with Basil Pesto

by Deliciously Organic on June 21, 2011

Plants don’t really grow for me. I’m not a great gardener. I wish I was. Moving around every couple of years doesn’t help because once I finally figure out what grows in that specific region, we pick up and move. One thing I do grow, despite my black thumb, is herbs. I have a few pots and each year in early summer I plant basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, mint, and cilantro. Each little plant costs about $2 (the same price I’d pay in the store for a few sprigs) and I have herbs for about six months out of the year. If you use herbs often in your cooking, growing your own can save you quite a bit of money at the grocery store.

One of my favorite things to make with fresh herbs is pesto. Basil is the most popular, but I like to change it up with chard, kale, olives, broccoli, and sun-dried tomatoes. I like to get creative for summer picnics by bringing “salad in a jar.” Pair this light, flavorful salad with some fruit, cured meat, and something bubbly and you’ve got a recipe for an enjoyable time with nature, even if you can’t grow your own garden.

For some gardening help, check out this excellent post:

How to Grow Your Own Indoor Culinary Herb Garden by Gourmande in the Kitchen

Caprese Salad with Basil Pesto

Serving Size: Serves 4

Caprese Salad with Basil Pesto

You can also make this salad in a large bowl instead of individual jars.


    For the Pesto:

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • For Salad:

  • 8 ounces penne pasta (whole wheat or rice pasta), cooked, drained and cooled

  • 16 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, cubed

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Place the basil, walnut, cheese, garlic and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. With processor on, slowly add olive oil. Adjust salt to taste.

Divide pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil into 4 bowls or jars. Divide pesto evenly among jars. Shake or toss salad before serving.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

marla {family fresh cooking} June 21, 2011 at 7:18 am

Fun twist to serve up salad in a jar. As far as green thumb(s) not me either 😉


Allison [Girl's Guide to Social Media] June 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

I would pack a salad in a jar for lunch everyday! It’s so easy. I’ll certainly work on that. Inspiring post!


Nancy@acommunaltable June 21, 2011 at 8:39 am

Such a great salad for picnics and putting it in a jar is the perfect way to transport it!


Lucy Lean June 21, 2011 at 9:34 am

This is coming with us to the Hollywood Bowl on Friday night for the Grease sing-a-long! Genius! I like to use pine nuts instead of walnuts in my pesto but will give this a try.


Deliciously Organic June 23, 2011 at 5:59 am

A Grease sing-a-long!? Oh, if we weren’t out-of-town I’d totally go to that. Have fun!!


the urban baker June 21, 2011 at 10:12 am

Nothing says summer better than pesto on everything!! This is such an incredibly adorable idea. Wish I could pull this off for Eli’s bar mitzvah – however 275 jars – seems a bit extravagant! x


Deliciously Organic June 23, 2011 at 5:59 am

Haha…Yes, all those jars might be a bit much! :) How much would that even cost? I don’t want to know. . .


Katrina June 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Yum! This is a fantastic idea. Your basil looks perfect. Great recipe!


Stancie June 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm

This looks amazing! I love Caprese salad! Thanks for sharing your recipe :)


Gaby June 21, 2011 at 5:01 pm

love these cute little caprese salads! I think a beach picnic with these is in order soon!


Mairi @ Toast June 21, 2011 at 6:46 pm

Beautiful looking herbs! And a delicious salad…caprese one of life’s simple pleasures, a favourite of mine.


Georgia Pellegrini June 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I would love to pack a lunch for myself this way, it looks so inspiring. Way better than plastic. And beautiful too. Thanks for such a great idea!


Lynda@Me and My Pink Mixer June 22, 2011 at 6:13 am

Love this idea! I have basil growing in a pot on my deck and can’t wait to make these for my next cookout! Where did you find the wooden forks and jars?


Deliciously Organic June 22, 2011 at 7:17 am

I got the jars at Sur La Table and the forks at Whole Foods.


Karen June 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I’m going to a BBQ this weekend and this one is coming along for the ride. Awesome! You’re so creative!


Kristen June 22, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Such a gorgeous, garden fresh recipe!


Andrea June 9, 2013 at 12:32 am

How delicious that sounds! I’d be omitting the pasta for something gluten free… hmm what to use?


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