Normally, when I think of caprese, I think of this, which is my preferred method of presentation. But sometimes we have no choice but to work with what we have, and if Costco isn't selling the usual log-shaped Belgioioso mozzarella, which can be cut into disks, then we suck it up and buy the Belgioioso mozza-nuggets. This will, of course, change the tenor of the salad we're trying to make, but we're nothing if not practical.
So here's what I contrived:
Instead of going for standard tomatoes, I've gone for cherry tomatoes. They were remarkably sweet; I guess tomatoes are in season. I layered the plate with basil, then scattered tomato halves and cheese nuggets across the top. I then crowned the whole thing with homemade pesto and the only fancy vinegar I've got: a Korean blueberry rice vinegar.
I can't decide whether the photo looks beautiful or ugly. The photo itself doesn't really capture the colorful, Christmasy reality of the caprese; the pesto, however, looks a lot like Vulcan turds, and the longer you stare, the more turd-like the turds look.* Taste-wise, the dish was excellent. I had been ready to be all closed-minded about using any vinegar other than balsamic, but now I'm sold: Korean blueberry rice vinegar (one of several varieties of fruity rice vinegars available at the local grocer) works just fine, and it fits perfectly into an Italian flavor profile, despite being rice-y and despite being blueberry-y.
Here's the food-porn angle of the same dish:
*To lay down the pesto, I scooped a couple spoonfuls into a plastic sandwich bag, cut off the corner of the bag, and squeezed the pesto onto the salad as if I were using a pastry tube. As I squeezed, I made hrrrrrrrgh grunting sounds and wet raspberry noises as the sandwich bag defecated its unsightly load onto the green leaves and tomatoes and cheese. That doubtless influenced my perception of the photo.