Before I start rhapsodizing about this roasted caprese salad, I should go on record by saying I love the traditional version of caprese salad a ridiculous amount of love. Sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and chopped basil, all drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil – I mean, what’s not to love there? And I make it over and over and over when the tomatoes are local and the basil is abundant. But then I got to thinking…what if I shook it up just a teeny bit? What if I kept the tomatoes and the basil, but swapped out the mozzarella for its show-off cousin, burrata cheese? What if I added a little torn and toasted bread to sass things up a bit? What if? I’m guessing you know the answer, since I’m about to say (say it with me now), let’s make it!It starts, as it must, with the very best tomatoes you can find. The better the tomato, the better the caprese. I always look for the heirloom tomatoes.
They are not as pretty as their cousins the beefsteak tomatoes, and they are usually a little more expensive, but they are the ultimate in sweet tomato flavor. Once you go heirloom, you don’t go back.
And of course, the basil.
Side note: To the woodchuck who lives in my back yard who loves the taste of fresh herbs, especially basil: I’ve got your number, mister. After three rounds of planting and chomping, I have moved my basil indoors. You can come look at it through my kitchen door, but that’s as close as you’re gonna get from now on. Ha.
Now here is where I went rogue, caprese-salad-wise. First off, I roasted the tomatoes. Roasting tomatoes not only softens them up, but gives a mouthwatering richness to that tomato flavor.
Second, that burrata. While you definitely CAN stay with the traditional mozzarella for this salad, burrata takes everything to a new level of decadence. If you’ve never tried burrata before, it’s basically mozzarella that is filled with cream and soft cheese curds. When you tear it apart like I do for this salad, it kind of melts into dollops of creamy, cheesy heaven. I got mine from Maplebrook Farms (yay Vermont!) but it is easily found in specialty cheese sections of supermarkets these days.
Last but not least, I added a little more substance to the salad by adding a little bread that I tore into bite-sized chunks, tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper and toasted. You can use whatever bread catches your fancy – a baguette, Italian bread, some brioche…I like using my beloved almost no knead bread, mainly because I like having any excuse to make it.
Once you have all your ingredients assembled, it’s as easy as arranging them on plates, drizzling a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top, and giving everything a scatter of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
If that isn’t the heart of summer on a plate, I don’t know what it. Happiness!Print
- 4 large heirloom tomatoes or 6 plum tomatoes, cut into large wedges
- 3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- 8 ounces burrata or fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
- 2 cups torn bread
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- Balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Toss tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and place in a single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until tender, about 30 minutes. Leave oven on for bread and let tomatoes cool while bread is toasting.
- Toss bread with olive oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Toast in oven until golden.
- Divide bread, tomatoes, cheese and basil leaves among 4 plates. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.