You Say Caprese And I’ll Remember

slow roasted caprese salad with burattaSo here’s how my mind works. Grab a pen because I paid people good money to get to the bottom of this.

I recently roasted some less than spectacular off-season tomatoes. I made a fairly time consuming, but very delicious, panzanella salad. I called it a winter panzanella because I roasted those off-season little buggers to try to coax as
much sweetness out of them as I could.

This is great trick. But based on some of the emails I received I need to point out that I am not a genius. This method is not something I “invented”. I’ll say it again. AM NOTCHEF.  I cannot save you culinarily.

But there is one thing I do know. There are very few tricks in cooking (read life) that have not been tried before. I first had winter tomatoes slow roasted like this at Babbo in New York City a very, very long time ago. Not the 1800s long time
ago. But Bill Clinton was President and my 401k looked pretty healthy. Healthy enough to pay for overcooked tomatoes in a city across the country from where I actually lived.

But I have digressed.

I keep saying roasted, but that implies a high temperature; which is not the case here. So, do as I do…not as I say. Okay?

What I “do” is I cook the tomatoes well past baked. But not as far as “sun dried”. They get crinkly, their sugars really bloom and the consistency approaches jam. Jam in skintight jammies! I like them best when that “jam” is still a bit juicy and runny. So when you pierce those “jammies” the goodness oozes out onto the plate.

roast tomatoesYou can experiment with how to best achieve this. It generally takes me about 3 hours in a 225 degee oven. As tomatoes vary in size, ripeness, density etc. the timing may be a bit different for you. So use your own judgment and don’t blame me if you can’t pull it off. I am not your mommy.

But this is all just exposition to what I am really talking about here; and the very reason you are reading these words. You want to know how my mind works. Well, I am getting to that.

I also encountered a winterized version of a summertime classic, the caprese salad, last year at Pizzeria Mozza here in Los Angeles. That recipe was re-created in the LA Times (remember when you loved it…) quite a while ago, and it is the basis for the luscious creation I have brought to you today. This recipe also substitutes mozzarella for sweet, creamy burrata. I love burrata! You should too.

Should I say more about the recipe? I don’t know. Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton. Maybe my mumbo jumbo is just so much static… so read the recipe.

Okay…where was I? You should know I am drinking wine right now…

Oh yes.…how my mind works. Well. Here it is. I am a steel trap. Say something to me and I remember it. Cook me something and I’ll enjoy it (completely). Be my friend and reap the consequences. Love me…and you have me for life. 

I remember the plot details of almost every book I have ever read. My BF is sometimes shocked because he’ll pull out a book we read 15 years ago and say. “I never read this”. And I’ll say, “yes you did and here’s what happened!”

A great example of this is the book The Reader. Which (thank the literary gods…) the movie is so like the book. When PIE (that’s the BF) and I were watching The Reader. I accidentally spilled the beans. (Hmmm…I am getting hungry) about the Nazi horror. He screamed (in a really sweet loving way) “HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT, AND WHY DID YOU TELL ME?”

“Because”, I said “WE READ THE BOOK!”

Which is the end of the story.


Greg Henry