I remember the first time I had ever had caprese salad. I was in my mid 20's and I was invited to eat dinner at my mother's house where my brother was making dinner. I'm not quite sure how he fell into it but for a period of time he really enjoyed cooking. He probably still does but I don't equate it with the same kind of passion he had back then which was very fun to watch and more importantly to eat the fruits of his labor. He brought out this beautiful platter of tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil drizzled with amazing things. I was in absolute heaven. For a while there he made it just about every chance he got and it was so delicious. Thinking about caprese salad makes me smile.
Making my own caprese salad has happened once, maybe twice. I'm not sure why I haven't gravitated toward it even though I love it so much. A few weeks ago I was watching an older episode of Ina Garten and she was explaining how much she loves caprese salad but felt that she was unable to make it most of the year due to the seasonality of great tomatoes. Her solution was to roast the tomatoes in the oven first which brought out their natural sweetness and beautiful color no matter how inadequate the tomatoes started out. This sounded absolutely wonderful to me. I really dislike the tomatoes at the store but have not gotten around to starting that vegetable garden I promised myself when we moved into our own home.
I roasted the tomatoes after dinner last night which filled our house with this amazing aroma. The smell was so intense that I kept checking the tomatoes because I thought for sure I was cooking them too long but in the end I decided to trust Ina and let them roast the full two hours. What resulted were these beautiful tomatoes that I couldn't wait to dig into and truth be told I had three right out of the oven. So sweet and delicous!
Roasted Caprese Salad
12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwse
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp sugar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
16 oz fresh mozzarella
12 basil leaves
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with garlic, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 2 hours until the tomates are concentrated and begin to carmelize. Allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature.
Cut the mozzarella into slices. Layer the mozzarella alternately with the tomatoes on a platter and scatter the basil on top. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper and drizzle with additional olive oil.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours