Don’t you love those moments in the kitchen when inspiration strikes and the result is a meal or dish so outstanding that you have to shout it from the rooftops…or at least from your blog?
This salad is my most recent moment of a) we have nothing to eat, b) those tomatoes are going to go bad soon so I should use them, c) and I guess I have some greens, too, d) and what about blackberries…
You know the drill. This time, a Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad was the result of desperate brainstorm. And if this is the result, let desperation be your muse always!
I had these baby heirloom tomatoes just begging to be eaten and every time I looked at them – so tiny, so juicy, so pretty – all I could think was how incredible they’d be roasted. Drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and crushed garlic, my hypothesis was on the nose. The entire house was filled with their tantalizing aroma, their tender skins burst just right, and they became the shining star in an otherwise ordinary salad.
On a bed of fresh spring greens, I chopped bites of baby mozzarella. I like to buy as close to fresh as possible, which is the containers of mozzarella balls soaking in water. It looks relatively revolting, but just get past that. Our photographer was jeebed out, but one bite of that sweet, tender cheese and I probably could have convinced her to eat it out of my shoe.
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I added the blackberries because, why not? They added color, a bonus serving of fruit, and a complementary sweetness that really pulled this entire meal together. Also, they’re juicy. And this is why that’s important…
Dressing-free salad! That’s right, I didn’t have to add any extra oil or fat because the roasted tomatoes burst open, combine with the olive oil and vinegar, and a little blackberry juice in each bite that you don’t even need dressing. In fact, at some point you’d just overwhelm and weigh it down.
The final piece de resistance is the grilled baguette croutons. You don’t even know. Not only are they terribly simple (brush baguette with olive oil, toast on the grill, chop), but they add a great chewy-but-crunchy texture to this salad.
There you have it – a salad that shakes up average vegetables in to something simple, impressive, and exquisite. We’ve enjoyed ours as an entree salad on its own, and we’ve also served it as a side. Both are the right answer!
8 oz. baby heirloom tomatoes (cherry or grape tomatoes are fine, too)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Pinch of Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1 small baguette, toasted
4 cups of fresh greens
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
2. Add your tomatoes to a bowl and toss with the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour on to the baking sheet in one layer. Place in the oven to roast; about 10 to 15 minutes or until the tomatoes start to burst.
3. Heat a grill to medium-high heat and place oiled baguette face down. Watch closely to avoid burning, and remove after 5-10 minutes when the bread is golden brown and toasted. Use a bread knife to cut in to bite-sized pieces.
4. On a bed of greens, add the still-warm tomatoes first, then toss on the cheese, berries, and croutons.
Recipe by Brandi Koskie; photos by Kacy Meinecke