Saturday, 5 November 2011

Warm tomato caprese

Whenever I want to splurge at the grocery store my mind first goes to bocconcini. Fresh bocconcini is slightly on the expensive side but it is so soft and milky and delicious that when I do buy it I struggle to make it last. I try to stretch it as much as possible; using a couple slices between 2 grilled slices of french bread, tearing and sparingly adding it to a pizza or just eating tiny pieces dipped in balsamic and olive oil. Bocconcini in a fresh caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market is defenitely my favorite way to enjoy this soft cheese.

Now however, tomato season is more or less over. Although they are still available locally in Vancouver from green houses. The quality of the tomatoes you will find at the store in the winter will undoubtedly be lower than those bought fresh from the farmers market in the summer. Instead of enjoying tomatoes fresh this time of year, it is best to eat them cooked. 

My love of tomatoes, bocconcini and the fact that it is winter inspired this simple but mouthwatering version of a caprese. It is almost like eating a margarita pizza, without the dough. The warm tomatoes melt the bocconcini slightly making it too heavenly to handle. Unfortunately, if you cant get fresh bocconcini this wont be nearly as enjoyable. Look at whole foods or an Italian foods store or maybe try saputos mozzarina, I hear it isnt too bad.

Warm tomato caprese
I learned my first basic lesson from Alice Waters' In the Green Kitchen, a basic techniques cookbook. In the section "how to season a salad" you learn that mashing garlic in vinegar softens the raw taste of garlic while mixing in salt takes the bite out of the vinegar. A simple yet effective concept employed in this salad dressing.

Ingredients (enough for 2 salads)
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
3 large basil leaves, chopped
1 large ball very fresh bocconcini
3 tsp balsamic
1/2 clove garlic, minced
4 tsp basil-infused olive oil, divided
pinch or two sea salt

1 - Warm 2 tsp basil olive oil in large pan over medium heat.
2 - Place tomato slices in heated pan, cook about 1 - 2 minutes per side, until slightly yellow or golden coloured, sprinkle with sea salt.
3 - While tomatoes are cooking, slice bocconcini into about 10 slices
4 - Dissolve sea salt into balsamic, and mash in the garlic with a spoon. Stir in 2 tsp olive oil and mix well.
5 - Lay slices of warmed tomatoes and sliced bocconcini on a plate. Drizzle with balsamic dressing and garnish with basil.
6 - Let bocconcini melt slightly then enjoy

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