The following recipe is from the April 14 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here!
The title for this recipe might not seem all that apt as it's halfway through April, but since beautiful, plum summer tomatoes are still at least a few months way I thought I'd share this recipe for a Winter Caprese Salad. Adapted from Molto Gusto by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner, this classic combination of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil can be made and enjoyed year round regardless of how sad your local supermarket tomatoes are looking.
Plum tomatoes are slowly oven-dried, which concentrates their flavor, and then tossed with an agrodolce (Italian for sweet and sour) sauce that makes up for any sweetness or acidity that the tomatoes might be lacking. The basil component of the salad comes from a pesto, another great way to coax flavor out of basil that might not be at its peak. These two elements combined with lovely little balls of fresh mozzarella make for a salad that tastes like summer, even if the weather isn't quite there yet.
- Oven-Dried Tomatoes (recipe follows), halved
- 1/4 cup agrodolce, made by combining equal parts sugar and red wine vinegar, boiling to dissolve, and then cooling
- 6 tablespoons Basil Pesto (recipe follows)
- Six 3-ounce balls fresh mozzarella (or a generous 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 slices)
- 2 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Maldon or other flaky sea salt
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- Generous pinch of Maldon or other flaky sea salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano
Combine the tomatoes and agrodolce in a small bowl, mixing well.
Put the pesto in a small bowl. Dip each mozzarella ball into the pesto, coating it generously, and place on a salad plate. Divide the tomatoes among the plates and serve.
- makes about 1 1/2 cups -
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Cut the tomatoes lengthwise in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp with your fingers. Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil and salt in a bowl, then arrange cut side down on the baking sheet.
Bake the tomatoes for 30 minutes, or until the skins are beginning to shrivel. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 250°F.
Pull off the tomato skins and discard. Blot up any juices on the baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the tomatoes are collapsed and slightly wrinkled but still moist. Let cool. (The tomatoes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
- makes about 1 cup -
With the motor running, drop the garlic into the food processor to chop it. Add the basil, pine nuts, and salt and pulse until the basil and nuts are coarsely chopped, then process until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the Parmigiano and Pecorino. (The pesto can be stored in a tightly sealed jar, topped with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil, for several weeks in the refrigerator.)