Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oven Roasted Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad is one of my favorite things to order at a fabulous Italian restaurant. It's also quite simple and easy to make at home. Normally, it's just a few slices of tomato, some fresh mozzarella cheese, a few basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Since I'm always thinking up variations to every recipe, I figured why not make this salad with oven roasted tomatoes? Cool. OK, so I looked up a few recipes explaining how to roast them. Wow! Apparently there are as many different methods of roasting tomatoes as there are different kinds of tomato! It's clearly all about time and temperature. I found that you can roast your tomatoes in as little as an hour or as much as eight hours or overnight! Crazy, huh? Who knew?
So, for my Caprese Salad, I decided to go "low and slow". Clearly, this is the way to go. Let me just tell you, you will not believe how delicious a tomato can be. The sugars caramelize, the flavors concentrate, and you're left with an insanely delicious and elegant first course.
You MUST try this. Seriously.

vine ripened tomatoes
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
fresh basil leaves
fresh soft mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Remove stems and slice each tomato in half. Place on a baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a generous pinch of sugar. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 7-8 hours. Yes, you read that correctly. HOURS. They will shrink and shrivel and become darker in color.
Remove from oven. Let them cool completely. Arrange tomatoes on a serving plate with slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. Drizzle lightly with a little more olive oil and serve!

I'd only use fresh mozzarella cheese for this. You know the kind I mean, the little balls of cheese that are sold in small containers in liquid (as opposed to the kind that's harder and dryer that you'd shred to put on top of pizza).

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