Salad Brain Exercise–Complementary Caprese Salad

by Min Merrell

Salad Brain is a creativity platform.

These exercises use the platter, rather than the typical deep salad bowl, as the canvas for creation and a means to illustrate the universal process of creative thinking and design. No matter the field, the steps of creativity are the same. Here we’re using salads because we all have some experience with salad, a low-stakes, easy medium for practicing everyday creativity. Plus, your installation will feed you beautifully and well, and shouldn’t we all be eating more salads anyway?


For an introduction to getting in touch with your salad brain, read Welcome to Salad Brain Creativity.


Red Tomatoes

Yellow Tomatoes

Green Basil

Purple Basil

Fresh Mozzarella

Olive oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Coarse salt and black pepper


The lesson here is complementary colors and that opposites attract. The complement to any primary color is made from the combination of the other two primaries, its direct opposite on the color wheel. Red–Green, Yellow–Purple, and Blue–Orange.  Whenever in doubt about what colors look good together you can always count on its complement.  It’s just a handy law that always feels and looks good. So this salad takes full advantage of that simple concept by pairing yellow tomatoes with purple basil and red tomatoes with green basil.


Hard to do too much to this because it is so perfect.  Consider how you cut the tomatoes.  Add interest with different varieties and sizes.  The mozzarella could be creamy burrata or bigger slices.  For more dramatic impact arrange the two tomato colors with their complementary basil apart from each other.   Or just serve one side of the color wheel.  No need to overdo here.

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