a caprese for all seasons

Tomato13

Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I was a bit “meh” about caprese salads – they were always a bit underwhelming – the tomatoes mealy, the mozzarella waxy and the whole thing completely overdressed with too much balsamic vinegar, garlic or {cringe} red onions. It wasn’t until I had my first caprese salad when I was 20 years old studying abroad in Italy that I understood how good a caprese could be – the tomatoes were perfectly ripe, the mozzarella was incredibly luscious and creamy, and it was dressed simply with the most delicious, floral olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was heaven.

Generally speaking, however, caprese salads are somewhat season-specific – they are best enjoyed during the summer months when tomatoes and basil are at their prime. I was delighted to come across a version of a caprese salad at Pizzeria Mozza {I am admittedly obsessed with the brilliant Nancy Silverton}, that could transcend all seasons. A bed of velvety Burrata cheese is drizzled with a chunky basil and parsley pesto and crowned with slow roasted cherry tomatoes, still on the vine. Slow roasting transforms even lackluster winter tomatoes into sweet, slightly burnished gems that are literally bursting at the seams with flavor. Savoring this wonderfully harmonious take on a traditional caprese made me feel as giddily excited as when I ate a true caprese for the first time.

Recipe continued after the jump…

Tomato3

Tomato5

Tomato4

Recipe

Pesto Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 c. fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 c. good quality olive oil {extra virgin}
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

Caprese Salad Ingredients

  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 tablespoon good quality olive oil {extra virgin}
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound Burrata or buffalo mozzarella
  • Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the tomatoes, with their vines intact, on the rack. Brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Roast for 4 to 4 1/2 hours, or until the skins begin to shrivel like a raisin but the tomatoes remain plump. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Toast pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and fragrant. Watch the pine nuts closely, because they burn easily. Pour onto a plate and let cool.

Transfer the pine nuts to a mortar, add the garlic, basil, parsley, and salt, and pulverize with a pestle to a smooth paste. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, working it in with the pestle, then add the Parmesan cheese, again mixing well with the pestle.

Cut {or pull} mozzarella/Burrata cheese in half and open each half like a book, and season lightly with sea salt. Drizzle pesto over the cheese. Carefully place tomatoes on top and serve immediately.

Tomato6

Tomato10

Tomato7

Tomato11

Tomato12

Tomato15

Tomato14

Thank you so much for reading!

This entry was posted in Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to a caprese for all seasons

  1. LaurenG says:

    Looks like the perfect winter dish! How do I make it if I don’t have a mortar and pestle? A small food processor?

    • fleurdeselsf says:

      Thanks Bodes! Yes, absolutely, I think a small food processor would work just fine. Maybe don’t process it as much as you would normally as it’s nice to have a bit chunkier of a pesto for this. xo

  2. LaurenG says:

    Also, totally agreed re: red onions in caprese…almost as bad as red onions or – GASP – capers in bruschetta!

  3. Anne says:

    Lindsay: That looks amazing! Probably the most unique way of serving Caprese I’ve seen. Beautiful!

  4. Anne says:

    Oh my god –and you used Burrata or buffalo mozzarella, bravo! Two of my favorite cheeses when having Caprese.

  5. caprese is one of my favorites..i must make this soon…looks so delish…lovely post as always…sarah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s