fantastic mozzerella, lackluster tomatoes...
I have a ball of wonderful fesh mozzerella and usually i would show it off in a caprese salad, but I can't find any tomatos worth serving it with. Any suggestions for how i can make a dish that will feature my delicious cheese but does not rely on fresh tomatoes?
I recently had mozarella wrapped in prosciutto drizzled in good balsamic vinegar and baked and it was great--simple but the mozzarella and and balsamic vinegar were both so good that they made the dish wonderful.
There's a recipe by Mario Batali for for a "Winter Caprese Salad"
Found: A Delicious Winter Caprese
Attention Mozzarella-Tomato-Basil Lovers: No need to lament the state of tomatoes during these dark winter months when Mario teaches you can always resort to roasting. The slow-roasting method reveals the flavor in these seemingly pallid duds.
Of course, you do want to go for the best tomato your market has to offer. To me, this means some kind of hothouse cherry tomato variety.
Picky purveyors Ricky and Lesley served up a pre-Lost viewing meal with Mario's Winter Caprese recipe as the powerful prelude. The dish achieves something similar to that of its summertime predecessor -- with warm, slow-roasted tomatoes, oozy mozzarella, dark pesto dollop and toasty pinenuts -- it is appropriately of the season.
Mozza's variation includes burrata instead of mozzarella di bufala bocconcini. A delicious modification, especially if using Gioia's burrata, the local California favorite.
If you decide to go burrata, be sure to go easy on it (this is difficult). The key to this dish's success is the balance of its ingredients. On our last visit to Mozza, Nancy Silverton was not manning the mozzarella output and we received a lavish amount of burrata in our caprese. True to the law of diminishing returns, I realized there can be such a thing as too much burrata.
Winter Caprese Salad
(from Molto Italiano by Mario Batali (HarperCollins, 2005), page 30)
6 Plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise in half (or large cherry tomatoes)
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parigiano-Reggiano
3 cups fresh Basil Leaves, plus a few more for garnish
2 tablespoons Pine Nuts
4 large Bocconcini from buffalo mozzarella cut into quarters (or Burrata)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place cut side down on a small baking sheet and bake for about 2 hours or until the tomatoes are softened. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let cool.
Transfer the cooled tomatoes to a colander and set aside to drain while you make the pesto.
Combine the garlic and Parmigiano in a blender and pulse until the garlic is roughly chopped. Add the basil and pulse 7 or 8 times, or until the leaves are shredded. With the blender running, slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of the olive oil, blending until smooth.
Toast the pine-nuts in an 8-inch saute pan over medium heat, tossing frequently, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
To serve, arrange 3 tomato slices cut side down on each plate. Place a ball of mozzarella (or scoop of burrata) in the center, and spoon 2 tablespoons of the pesto onto each ball of mozzarella. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and garnish with the basil leaves.
Cut the not-so-great-tomatoes into wedges and a few cloves of garlic (leave in skins) place in baking dish in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.... meanwhile cook pasta... drain... squeeze roasted garlic cloves over tomatoes and pour onto past... then top with mozz, fresh basil and lightly mix.
you could do a caprese salad anyway but slow-roast the tomatoes.
i think mario batali has a recipe for a "winter caprese salad" that outlines it more, but basically just slice some plum tomatoes in half, toss with some salt/pepper/olive oil, and roast, cut side down, at 200 for about 4 hours. even really cardboardy looking tomatoes come out yummy with this process, it's like magic.
i like to slice fresh mozzarella and showcase it in a vegetable and pesto tart. i bake a tart shell with a non-sweet pastry and do a couple of layers of sliced cheese + fresh pesto + roasted eggplant/red peppers (or in the summer, just fresh beefsteak tomatoes). i just serve the tart at room temperature instead of melting the cheese.
One of my regular haunts serves a tomato tart year round. The chef brings out the flavor of the tomatoes like others have stated here, roast them.
If that is not an option try roasting red peppers. Nice big slices on the fresh mozzy with some good evoo and balsamic. Throw some basil leaves on top and noone will miss the tomatoes.
As others have suggested, serve your cheese either with cherry tomatoes, which are the only tomatoes I've found that have good flavor in the winter, or serve them with slow-roasted plum tomatoes. The slow roasting brings out the flavor in even the most lackluster tomatoes. I've linked a recipe for slow roasted tomatoes (from Gourmet, 1999) below:
Why not use sun dried in a jar -it has the evoo. You can chop up and like a below suggestion, serve on crostini w/pesto. Nothing wrong with Alfredo either instead of anything tom. I LOVE alfredo pizza w/ mucho mozzarella, garlic and alfredo sauce. Top w grilled shrimp! YUMMO :)KQ