Every winter, right around now, I start to crave a perfectly ripe summer tomato, straight from the garden, so that I can make Caprese Salad – a classic Italian dish of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Caprese Salad made with tomatoes at the peak of their ripeness is pretty close to heaven on earth. That’s why I miss it so terribly come winter. So this is my solution – Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Cashew Pesto, a/k/a Winter Caprese Salad. Simply roast up a batch of plum tomatoes and serve them with pesto and fresh mozzarella. Roasting the tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness. They won’t be as tasty as garden fresh tomatoes but they’re a good substitute during the cold winter months.
Here is what the tomatoes will look like after roasting them. They’ll have shrunk to about 1/4 their original size and when you flip them over they’ll be ever so slightly charred on the bottom (skin side).
It’s normal for a little bit of the liquid from the tomatoes to seep out and burn on the bottom of the pans. This is caused by the natural sugars in the tomatoes. Unfortunately there’s no way to avoid this so be sure to use either oiled parchment paper to line your baking sheets or silicone baking mats, otherwise it will be very difficult to remove the tomatoes and almost impossible to clean the pans.
You can use store bought pesto for this recipe, which makes it a snap to prepare, but if you have time to make the Basil Cashew Pesto it’s well worth the extra effort – most store bought pesto is usually not very good. Instructions are included in the “notes” section. The recipe yields 3¼ cups of Basil Cashew Pesto and you only need 1/4 cup for the slow roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella so you’ll have plenty of extra pesto to refrigerate or freeze for later use.
The colors of Italy shine bright in this simple and delicious salad. BUON APPETITO!
- 12 plum or Roma tomatoes (about 2-4 lbs. or more in total depending on the size of the tomatoes) cut in half lengthwise
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ½ tsp. coconut palm sugar (or regular sugar)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
- ¼ cup basil cashew pesto (recipe follows under "Notes") or store bought pesto
- 1 ounce fresh basil (garnish)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line two half sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. If using parchment lined baking sheets, brush with a thin coating of olive oil.
- Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on the sheet pans. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Brush the top of each tomato half with the garlic/olive oil mixture then sprinkle on the coconut sugar, salt, and pepper.
- Roast on the bottom racks of the oven for 2 hours OR until the tomatoes have shriveled to about ¼ of their original size and the bottoms are slightly charred. (Rotate the baking sheets after 1 hour of roasting.) If your tomatoes are large they may take up to 3 hour to reduce. Start checking the oven after 2 hours and continue roasting in 15 minute intervals until they have shrunk and the bottoms are just beginning to char.
- Warm the basil cashew pesto in a small sauce pan over low heat.
- To serve, place 2 ounces of fresh sliced mozzarella on 4 salad plates with 1 Tablespoon of the warm basil cashew pesto on top. Divide the slow roasted tomatoes evenly among the plates and garnish with fresh basil.
5 cups loosely packed/3 ounces basil leaves
1¾ cups/7 ounces unsalted, dry roasted cashews
1½ cups/4¼ ounces grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
INSTRUCTIONS: Process the basil, cashews, parmesan cheese, garlic, and salt in a food processor until a thick paste forms. With the machine still running gradually pour the olive oil into the feed tube and continue processing until all of the oil is incorporated. Stop the machine, scrape down the sides of the bowl and then process again for a few more seconds until everything is well combined. Store the pesto in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months. Make 3¼ cups.
Tip: Using the weight measurements given for the basil and cashews ensures more consistent results from batch to batch.
Nurtirion Facts for 1 Serving of Slow Roasted Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Cashew Pesto is provided below.
LIKE THIS RECIPE? PIN IT FOR LATER