Tomato caprese salad is a summertime favorite, made with ripe home-grown tomatoes and topped with fresh basil leaves. It's not something I even think of making during the winter, when pale pink tomatoes come to supermarkets from hot houses.
Enter the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, author of a dozen best-selling cookbooks. Winter doesn't stop Ina from making tomato caprese salad. She slowly roasts plum tomatoes until they're sweet and caramelized, and layers them with fresh mozzarella (available all year round) and fresh basil, ditto. It's what I would call a genius recipe, maybe even better than the summer version.
This serves 6 as an appetizer; if there are just two of you, dole out the leftovers from the fridge for lunch. It may be a cold day in January now, but every bite of this tomato caprese salad will remind you that summer is coming.
12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, with seeds (not cores) removed
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 ounces fresh mozzarella
12 basil leaves, julienned
Preheat over to 275 degrees.
Arrange tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the garlic, sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Roast for 2 hours until the tomatoes are concentrated and begin to caramelize. Allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature.
Cut the mozzarella into slices slightly less than 1/2-inch think. If the slices of mozzarella are larger than the tomatoes, cut the mozzarella slices in half. Layer the tomatoes alternately with the mozzarella on a platter and scatter the basil on top. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Serve at room temperature.
Note to WW Members: While this could be considered an indulgent recipe, remember that it is also healthy. Each serving allows for a whole (or two halves) of a Roma tomato with two slices of fresh mozzarella. If you've ever prepared an Ina Garten recipe, you'll know that Ina doesn't skimp on her use of butter or olive oil. (That's why her recipes are so delicious.) This recipe contains 4 Tbsp. of olive oil, which you can cut back for fewer WW Points. My suggestion? Make it as is and serve it to friends with crunchy French bread. Use your Weekly Points. This...is living!