Here’s a recent dialogue I had with a caprese salad. (What, you don’t talk to your food? What, your food doesn’t talk back?) ME: Oh, caprese. You are the embodiment of simple and delicious. You make me happy. There’s no way you could be any better. CAPRESE: GRILL ME!
When my food speaks to me, I listen.
I equate Fall with warm comfort foods. That said, I still crave fresh fruits and vegetables during the autumn months. This is the perfect combination. Fresh tomatoes and basil, warmed through on the grill, pared with melted mozzarella cheese and grilled bread. Grilling the tomatoes brings out their sweetness. This also releases some of their delicious juices. These juices concentrate as the salad cooks, creating a lovely sauce to be sopped up with grilled bread.
If you do not have access to a grill, you can achieve the same results by placing the caprese salad stacks under your oven broiler. Just be sure to keep at least 6 inches between the top mozzarella layer and the broiler.
This dish can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or light lunch. Be sure to serve with plenty of grilled bread for that sauce!
- 2 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 lb each), sliced 1/2 inch thick (Each tomato should yield 3 center slices)
- 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for bread
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 baguette cut into 1 inch slices (drizzled with a small amount of olive oil)
- 1 garlic clove, left whole
Heat grill to medium high heat.
Prepare 2 large pieces of tin foil, at least 8 inches long each. Using a pastry brush, brush a small amount of olive oil into the center of each piece of foil. Create caprese salad stack by placing one slice of tomato onto tin foil, then season the tomato with salt and pepper. Next, add a layer of mozzarella, then basil. Repeat 2 more times ending with mozzarella. Repeat process with the second piece of tin foil, making a second caprese salad stack. Season the top of each stack with additional pepper and 1 tsp of olive oil. Fold the sides of the tin foil to create a wall around the caprese salad stack. This will catch juices. Place on the grill for 5 minutes until mozzarella is melted.
Meanwhile, grill bread for 2 minutes per side. Remove bread from grill and rub with a raw garlic clove. (Note, make sure the bread is still warm when you rub it with the garlic clove. This heats up the garlic and transfers the flavor to the bread.)
Remove caprese salad stack from the grill and top with additional fresh basil. Serve with grilled bread.
My favorite part of this dish is the juices that cook out of the caprese salad. Make sure to catch them in the tin foil. Dip grilled bread into these juices liberally!