Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Winter Caprese Salad (Take #2)

I know that I have already posted a few different Mario Batali recipes for caprese salad, including another one called Winter Caprese Salad.  Apparently his names for recipes aren't very creative.  Then again, how many different names can you come up with for caprese salad?  He already has a Summer Caprese Salad as well.  I have been thinking about caprese salad ever since it started getting warmer out and greens started re-appearing at the farmers' market.  But local heirloom tomatoes won't be around for awhile yet, so I figured we had to go with one of the caprese recipes using roasted tomatoes.  Luckily we had a bunch of Roma tomatoes leftover from the other evening that I had bought to make salsa.  And with Zabar's and Salumeria Rosi nearby I always have a ready source of fresh mozzarella and/or burrata.

This recipe actually calls for mozzarella but I was in a burrata mood so we did that instead.  As you can see in the picture above, burrata is a lot creamier and oozes a lot more than regular mozzarella.  I thought it was a really lovely take on caprese salad.  I might slightly prefer Mario Batali's other Winter Caprese Salad recipe (and I think my all-time favorite might be his Summer Caprese Salad but that might just be because I love heirloom tomatoes fresh from the farmers' market and no matter how delicious a roasted Roma tomato is, it just can't compare with a fresh in-season tomato) because this one was a little sweet for me.  Roasting the tomatoes already intensifies their natural sweetness and then adding the agrodolce might have pushed them over the edge of too sweet for me.  But I am being really picky with that criticism.  It was still a wonderful dish.  The man really is a genius.

Recipe after the jump!

Winter Caprese Salad
Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking
By Mario Batali and Mark Ladner

Oven-Dried Tomatoes, halved (see below)
1/4 cup agrodolce (see below)
basil pesto (see below)
1 ball of burrata or fresh mozzarella, sliced (or cut/torn into chunks because that's about all you can do with burrata)

Combine the tomatoes and agrodolce in a small bowl, mixing well.  Set aside.

Put the pesto in a small bowl.  Toss mozzarella in the pesto, coating it generously, and divide among salad plates (or serve on one large platter).  Divide tomatoes among plates (or on a platter) and serve.

Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking
By Mario Batali and Mark Ladner

2 lbs plum tomatoes
1 tbsp evoo
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Cut the tomatoes lengthwise in half and using your fingers, scoop out the seeds and pulp. 

Toss the tomatoes with the evoo and salt in a bowl, then arrange cut-side down on the baking sheet.

Bake the tomatoes for 30 minutes, until the tomato skin begins to shrivel.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Reduce the oven temperature to 250°F.
Carefully pull off the tomato skins and discard.  Blot up any juices from the baking sheet using paper towels.  Roast the tomatoes for 1 1/2-2 hours, until the tomatoes are collapsed and slightly wrinkled but still moist.  Let cool.

Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking
By Mario Batali and Mark Ladner

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

Combine red wine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Store in a tightly sealed jar or other container in the refrigerator, where it will keep almost indefinitely.

Basil Pesto
Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking
By Mario Batali and Mark Ladner

3 cloves garlic
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil
3 tbsp pine nuts
generous pinch sea salt
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp evoo
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tbsp grated pecorino romano
Place the garlic in a food processor and chop.  Add in the basil, pine nuts and salt and process until coarsely chopped.  With the motor running, drizzle in the oil.  Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in grated cheeses.

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