CREATIVE FAMILY FUN: Get your kids stacking an Italian caprese salad

By Donna Erickson


You’ll need a tin can to layer this tricolor salad. (Donna Erickson)

When it’s time to prep a dinner meal this week, get your kids stacking the green, white and red layers of fresh basil, mozzarella and tomato. If they say their culinary creation reminds them of winter’s Christmas colors, guide them to a photo of the tricolor green, white and red Italian flag. This fun-to-make version using a surprise ingredient, couscous, is a tasty spring twist on Italy’s traditional caprese salad.

I’ve always believed in using the right tools for the right job. In this recipe, it’s recycled aluminum cans. Once you’ve removed labels and both ends of four 7-8 ounce clean cans (I used 7-ounce diced green chilies cans and made sure there were no sharp edges), gather the following ingredients to create a fancy-looking presentation.




Four aluminum 7-8 ounce cans with both ends removed

Nonstick cooking spray or olive oil

2 medium, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 cup cooked couscous mixed with 2 tablespoons Italian dressing or prepared pesto

8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil leaves

Parsley for garnish (optional)

Balsamic vinegar


  1. Spray with nonstick spray or lightly wipe oil in the interior of the four cans. Set each can on end on a salad plate.
  2. Trim the tomato and cheese slices to fit the interior of a can, then stack the individual portions in layers inside the can as follows: a tomato slice, 2 tablespoons of couscous mixture and a cheese slice. Repeat.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and press down on the stack gently with a jar or can slightly smaller than the opening of the can.
  4. Remove wrap and slowly lift the can to reveal the layered salad. To serve, garnish with a fresh basil leaf or sprig of parsley. Drizzle balsamic vinegar to taste.


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© 2022 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.

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