When my dad’s coworker first suggested a local upscale Italian restaurant, we took careful notes on the entrées he advised. We ordered their pollo saltimbocca (chicken topped with ham, mozzarella, and a white wine sauce) and gnocchi gorgonzola to split between three people, ensuring that everyone ate bites of both.
But before we polished off the main dishes and mopped up the last drops of sauce with fresh warm bread, we bravely branched out to try an appetizer. The waiter recommended the insalata caprese, and within minutes, it arrived at our table.
We finished it off just as quickly as it came, and when I recently found a few tomatoes and mozzarella in my fridge, I decided to make my own. Because the trees outside swayed in a chilly breeze, I wanted a warm meal, so I threw the appetizer into the oven for a couple minutes. It turned out just as good as the original, and I (accidentally) ate it all myself!
Warm Insalata Caprese
If you have any, fresh basil would taste delicious instead of the dried. Chop it a bit and lay beneath the cheese to prevent it from browning or burning.
2 medium tomatoes
4 (⅛”-thick) slices of mozzarella cheese
⅛ tsp salt
⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper (about 4 turns)
⅛ tsp dried basil
½ c. spinach
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Preheat the broiler, and lightly mist a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
- Slice the tomatoes in half around their centers. Sprinkle each with a quarter of the salt, pepper, and basil. Top each tomato half with a slice of cheese, and broil for 3-4 min or until cheese melts and begins to bubble.
- While the tomatos cook, place the spinach on a plate. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar (and olive oil, if you’d like). When the tomatoes finish, place them on top of the spinach and serve immediately.