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.
- Yield:Serves 6
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:1 hour
- 1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 11/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound small fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini), halved
- 1/4 cup basil leaves, finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 lemon
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add cherry tomatoes, olive oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and sugar, and toss to combine. Transfer to oven to roast until wrinkled and just starting to char, about 40 minutes, tossing periodically to cook evenly.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Transfer tomatoes along with any juices to a large bowl. Add mozzarella and basil. Gently toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add lemon zest, and toss again. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to an hour before serving.