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September 12, 2023

Baked Tomatoes with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

The simplest recipe is often the most successful.

This dish is like a baked Caprese salad. The ingredients are the same as a Caprese salad, but baking the tomatoes creates new flavors. As the tomatoes cook and the juices release, they blend with the olive oil and creates a caramelized sauce for which toasted bread is a must to mop up the sauce.

People often tell me they have family members who prefer raw or cooked tomatoes but not both, so if you have someone at your table who doesn’t like raw tomatoes, try this dish. Adding fresh basil after baking is divine, but if you don’t have fresh basil on hand, dried oregano or herbs de Provence is also delicious. The dried herbs give it a slightly pizza-like taste.

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Baked Tomatoes with Mozzarella and Basil

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Serve this dish as a first course, a side dish, or a light or vegetarian main dish.

Ingredients

In-season tomatoes- any kind

Fresh mozzarella cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

Celtic or sea salt

Optional: fresh basil, dried oregano, or herbs de Provence

Instructions

Core and slice the tomatoes.

Arrange the tomato slices in a baking dish and add cheese slices on top.

Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle Celtic or sea salt over the tomatoes and cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for around 25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are cooked and the cheese is melted.

If desired, broil for 3-4 minutes to brown the cheese.

Finally, you can choose to top your dish with some fresh basil, dried oregano, or herbs de Provence.

Notes

I recommend using fresh cheese instead of pre-shredded bagged cheese. Fresh cheese is more delicious and nutritious, while pre-shredded cheese often contains cellulose (a wood by-product) to prevent clumping. This additive dilutes the flavor, and the cheese is likely lower quality to begin with.

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I often cook "au pif," as we say in France, which means cooking without an exact recipe and by "feel" using your intuition.  You’ll often find guidelines in many recipes versus exact quantities.  Write to me here if you have any questions about the recipes.

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