May 26


Monika’s Molecular Meals: Watermelon “Caprese” Salad (Plus 2 More Easy, Innovative & Delicious Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas)

By Monika Knapp

May 26, 2021

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Try These Simple & Tasty Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas

Monika's Molecular Meals: Watermelon "Caprese" Salad (Plus 2 More Easy, Innovative & Delicious Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas)

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Alright, let’s talk about my least favorite summer food pairing the couple I can no longer stand:

Watermelon and feta.

I like watermelon. I love feta.

I’m so sick of seeing it as the only watermelon salad option on menus though!

I mean, sure, you’ll sometimes see watermelon skewers, grilled watermelon, or watermelon salsa though in terms of watermelon salad options, it’s pretty much just watermelon and feta.

And the first few times I saw it on the menu, it was great. I mean, who doesn’t love an alternative to normal green salads?

But then it got to be just about EVERYWHERE… and really, there are so many more things you can do with watermelon!

So I want to give you another option:

Watermelon “caprese.”

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It’s watermelon paired with another creamy, milky, eminently “summery” cheese and yet, it’s entirely different from its boring, often watery cousin.

(Plus, have you ever made a watermelon feta salad and let it sit in the fridge overnight? It turns into a strange, watery-yet-salty half-creamy disaster.)

I’ll also show you two more exciting gluten-free summer salads you can experiment with below along with some tips and tricks to get the most out of your watermelon before we’re in full-on PSL season.

Let’s get started:

Monika's Molecular Meals: Watermelon "Caprese" Salad (Plus 2 More Easy, Innovative & Delicious Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas)

FTH’s Gluten-Free Watermelon “Caprese” Salad 

Equipment Needed: Paring knife; medium round cookie cutter (about the size of a slice of tomato); small Pyrex or nonreactive bowl; large mason jar, small heavy bowl or fermentation weight

Recipe Time: 1-12 hours marinating time, 5 minutes of assembly

Serves: 4-6


  • 1 whole miniature seedless watermelon (larger seedless watermelon is fine too; it’ll just be slightly clunkier to work with)
  • About 8 oz. highest quality fresh whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large handful basil, gently washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or lemon-infused vinegar (see Recipe Notes)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Arugula (optional)


1) Make your vinaigrette.

In a Pyrex or nonreactive bowl, add your olive oil, vinegar, 2 very large pinches of salt, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Whisk to combine, then toss in a few whole basil leaves (be careful not to bruise them).

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2) Prep the watermelon and compress.

Peel your watermelon (just the green part), then carefully slice the rind off. I find it’s very easy to peel watermelons with a Y-peeler, though a regular peeler will do the job. 

To easily separate the fruit from the rind, cut the watermelon in half. Then, using a paring knife, slice a piece of rind off with the cut side of the watermelon facing down on a cutting board. That way, you can use your eyes to follow the fruit-rind separation line as you slice off the rest of the rind.

Repeat with the other half of the watermelon, and set the rind aside do not throw away.

Take one half of the watermelon, and cut off the rounded side so it looks even on all sides without any sloping. Repeat with the second half.

Set the two cylinders of watermelon on a cutting board, and place your cookie cutter on top of one half of the watermelon where you want to cut. It’s fine if there’s extra watermelon left over, but the cookie cutter should be able to sit flat on top of the watermelon.

Press down gently yet deliberately, and you should feel the watermelon begin to give. Continue pressing until you have a tomato slice-sized cylinder of watermelon. Repeat with the other half of the watermelon, and set the remaining fruit aside.

Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, carefully cut the watermelon into slices about the size of a slice of tomato.

Layer the slices on top of each other in the vinaigrette. Cover the bottom of a mason jar, small heavy bowl, or fermentation weight in plastic wrap, then set on top of the watermelon. The important thing is that you put weight on the watermelon so the color intensifies, along with the flavor.

Place the watermelon in the fridge for at least one hour and up to 12.

3) Prep the salad and enjoy!

When the watermelon is ready, carefully remove the slices and drain the vinaigrette (do not toss).

Take your mozzarella out of the packaging or liquid and slice it. It’s best to wait to do this until the moment you want it otherwise, it won’t taste as fresh.

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Layer a slice of watermelon, followed by a slice of mozzarella, then a basil leaf. Repeat this until you’ve run out of one of the three components.

Drizzle with a 2-3 Tbsp of the vinaigrette, finish with a sprinkle of kosher salt if desired, and serve. If using optional arugula, toss the arugula in dressing, place in a mound on a plate, and arrange the caprese around it.

(For an added element of surprise, don’t mention it’s a watermelon caprese. They might *actually* believe it’s a tomato!)

Recipe Notes

  • I highly recommend making lemon-infused vinegar for this recipe. It’s really easy just throw the ends of 6 lemons (or rinds from 3 whole lemons) into a small mason jar and cover with white wine vinegar. Let sit for at least 24 hours and up to two weeks, then strain. It’s the perfect summer salad dressing!
  • If you hate watermelon, mozzarella, or just the concept of caprese in general, you could just as easily make this using a similar fruit-cheese-herb combination such as goat cheese, grilled or sauteed apricots, and thyme; figs, manchego, and almonds would also make a nice gluten-free lunch salad.
Monika's Molecular Meals: Watermelon "Caprese" Salad (Plus 2 More Easy, Innovative & Delicious Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas)

Are You Throwing Away The Best Part Of The Watermelon Without Knowing It?

Juice the leftover watermelon and its rind for a nice and healthy beverage to drink with your lunch!

Watermelon rind pickles are fairly common, though they often contain a lot of added sugar. 

Juicing the rind with the leftover watermelon is an easy (and delicious) way to avoid the extra sugar, without wasting any watermelon.

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You could also use the juiced rind to make a vinaigrette for salads, fruit, or anything else you think could use some citrusy freshness (think dishes where cucumber works well).

It’s become one of my favorite ways to use up the WHOLE watermelon… and to dress up any fruit or salad dish.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe:

Watermelon Rind Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup juice from one watermelon rind
  • 1/2 cup best-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • (optional) 1 tsp fresh lemon juice only if you think it needs some more acidity

Whisk all ingredients together, then serve immediately. 

You could even cube the extra watermelon and drizzle the vinaigrette on it for a slightly different (yet equally fancy) take on a watermelon salad!


gluten free lunch ideas

Pro Tip: Eat This Salad Before Bed Tonight To Boost Your Metabolism Tomorrow! (Here’s How)

So I know we typically think of eating salads during lunch to tide us over… 

(And sadly, some salads aren’t even very good at that…)

But something special about this watermelon “caprese” is that if you have leftovers, you can snack on it before bed to boost your metabolism and curb your cravings!

That’s because research has found that eating protein before bed is one of the best ways to increase your metabolism–even while you sleep.

(Seriously, I can’t make this up, click here to see the science!)… 

And the cheese in this salad provides the perfect amount of protein to curb any late-night cravings you might have, and kickstart your metabolism throughout the night and into the next day.

As a matter of fact, I did a little “experiment” to test this theory out… 

And found that when I ate this salad for dinner, or close to my bedtime, I felt A LOT less hungry the next day.

So, even if it might seem a bit counterintuitive at first to eat right before bed…

(After all, so many people say eating before bed is a huge no-no…)

Trust me on this! You’ll see incredible results with just this one little change to your nighttime routine.

Check this out to see all 3 of these “no-effort” tips for boosting your metabolism and how to start using them right away:

Click Here To Discover 3 Simple Tips For Easily Boosting Your Metabolism While You Sleep

[Note: This post was updated by Fit Trim Happy on February 16, 2020.]

Monika Knapp

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