Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr
I love the versatility of tomatoes! My variation of the classic Caprese salad is a superb starter or light meal, and very healthy as well. It consists of various ways in which to present tomatoes on one platter, and the quantities can be increased to feed a crowd! The roasting part is easy -- go shopping while it happens! Quantities are not exact, but are what I used for the photograph.
- 5 -6 tomatoes, red and ripe
- 1 large red onion
- 1⁄2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 -2 shallot (or use a small sweet onion)
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, in cubes (or use the bocconcini balls)
- 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
- 1⁄2 tablespoon virgin olive oil
- 3 teaspoons gelatin (or use sheets)
- 1 -2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 -2 teaspoon salt (do try to use flaky sea salt)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Tabasco sauce
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper (to taste)
- fresh basil (optional)
- Earlier in the day:
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F/180 deg Celsius.
- Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut off just the tops of ONLY 3 tomatoes to cut away the stem bit. Then gently press out as much juice as possible into a bowl.
- Slice the tomatoes thickly. Remove more pulp (into the bowl!) with the point of a paring knife. (You need the juice).
- Grease an oven dish with olive oil and pack the tomato slices close together. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar, some sea salt, and drizzle with olive oil.
- Clean the onion, slice into 2 parts from the stem end, then slice again into fairly thick wedges or slices. Put into a greased oven dish and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, a tiny bit of salt, and olive oil.
- Put the tomato and onion slices in the preheated oven. They need an hour or more to roast and dry out a little.
- Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sugar (or less, depending on sweetness of tomatoes) to the tomato juice/pulp that you saved, as well as a tiny pinch of salt and some black pepper. You can also add a drop of Tabasco if you like.
- Put into a small pot, sprinkle over the gelatine (I am not confident yet with the sheets, but if that's what you have, use them). Heat gently, stirring, until gelatine melts, and take off the heat.
- Grease 2 small or one larger ramekin, mold, or even a cup, and pour the tomato pulp into it. You won't have much more than about 2/3rds cup.
- Go shopping.
- Come back and check the stuff in the oven. The tomato slices should just start to catch at the edges, and they're ready. The onion slices should just be softened well and slightly roasted. Remove from oven and let cool.
- To finish the salad: Peel 2 more tomatoes (or more), and chop up. Clean and finely chop the shallot, add, and mix well with the chopped tomato. Season with salt and pepper. And really, flaky sea salt and coarse black pepper taste the best!
- Cut the mozzarella into bite-sized pieces (or drain bocconcini). Mix the pesto with the olive oil, pour over the mozzarella, and mix well. Sprinkle over a bit of salt.
- Arrange the roasted tomato slices along the edge of a platter. Then, to taste, arrange the mozzarella, the chopped tomatoes with shallot, and the roasted red onion slices.
- Take the little ramekins or the mold from the fridge, unmold, and add to the platter.
- If you like, use snipped fresh basil as a garnish.
- Sprinkle the entire salad lightly with a French vinaigrette (preferably home-made).
- Serve with a fresh country-style bread and chilled dry wine.