Up until recently I was pretty sure I had caprese-ed everything there was to caprese. Steak, pasta, peaches, and of course the good old caprese salad. But as it turns out, they were all just delicious preludes to the wonder that is this caprese bread pudding recipe. Yes, it’s exactly what you hope and dream it is – torn pieces of buttery brioche bread soaked in milk and eggs, and then baked with slices of sweet heirloom tomatoes and creamy mozzarella cheese, and then scattered with basil leaves and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. It is warm and wonderful summer on a plate, pure and simple. Let’s get to caprese-ing!
Recipes are born all sorts of ways in my house. Some of them come together because the Southern husband starts reminiscing about the banana pudding his mama used to make. Some are invented because I have heard one too many times about ramen burgers and I absolutely NEED to figure out my own version of them. And some, like this recipe for mozzarella prosciutto salad, are invented because I have collected a random version of ingredients during the day, and I decide to put all of them together. Which sometimes is alarming, and sometimes (like this time) is all kinds of delicious. So here’s what happened.
I have an enormous crush on antipasto. Or what I consider antipasto, which (with apologies to all my Italian friends out there) means a giant platter of cheese and smoked meats and veggies that you are encouraged to snack on to your hearts content. However, as I understand it, traditional antipasto usually includes a few things that I don’t like. Olives. Roasted red peppers. PICKLED MUSHROOMS. So I decided to go rogue and build an antipasto full of only things I like, and since I am breaking all kinds of antipasto rules anyway, to turn it into a salad. Because, why not?
I love baked potatoes with a ridiculous amount of love. And my love for them spilleth over when they are topped or stuffed with other things I love, like eggs or taco spices or cheeseburger fixings. I also love pizza with a ridiculous amount of love, so this recipe was inevitable. Baked potato, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and just for good measure, some pepperoni. Because if you are going to mash up your baked potato with your pizza, you might as well go the full monty!
Caprese is one of my favorite words in the whole wide world, because it means tomatoes and mozzarella and basil. Sometimes it is a salad. Sometimes it is a pizza. Sometimes it is both, which is the best of both worlds and which I like to call Caprese Pastry, because it calls for that magical thing that is frozen puff pastry. So when the tomatoes are local and the basil is fresh and when you can find yourself a hunk of the best mozzarella you can, break out the puff pastry and get ready for the deliciousness that is Caprese Pastry.
I have developed a pizza-making obsession lately, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m not sure why – it’s not like we aren’t surrounded by perfectly wonderful pizza joints, but there’s something about cooking it up in your own oven that gives you warm fuzzy feelings of pizza-smugness. As in, oh yes, I can make my own pizza. In this particular case, clam and bacon pizza with some chopped flat leaf parsley scattered on top. Oh yes. Irish girl does pizza.