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Oven-roasted tomatoes get sweetness and depth from maple syrup and balsamic vinegar before they're tossed with mozzarella and basil. [Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

It's hard to find fault with a caprese salad. Unfortunately, in many parts of the country, tomatoes aren't at their best for much of the year. To make up for that inferior flavor, I like to give them a toss in maple syrup and balsamic vinegar and them in the oven. They emerge sweetened, flavorful, and ready to accompany to the salad's standard accoutrements: basil and mozzarella.

Finished with a touch of lemon zest, this savory, vibrant salad hits all the right notes.

About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.

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