Last week, I discovered a recipe for Roasted Caprese Salad by Samantha Ferraro, author of The Little Ferraro Kitchen blog. I'm a huge fan of tomatoes once they come into season for the summer. The off season product with its mealy bleach-looked flesh is not worth eating. Tomatoes in season are vibrant red all the way through, juicy and flavorful--a flavor that's hard to describe given the complex interaction of multiple flavor compounds that are responsible for tomatoes' unique taste.
As good as ripe, fresh tomatoes are, roasting tomatoes puts them on a whole other plane. It brings out their dark side: enhancing their umami qualities and sweetness.
Tomato Panzanella is one of my favorite things to make with tomatoes. Reading Ferraro's recipe got me thinking that I could adapt it into a pretty incredible panzanella, which is exactly what I did here.
The roasted tomatoes are what makes this dish really special. I love fresh ones in panzanella, which is certainly faster. But I'll definitely be making this again. And again.
Roasted Tomato Panzanella
Inspired by (and adapted from) Roasted Caprese Salad by The Little Ferraro Kitchen
1 lb. ripe, fresh tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb. assorted cherry tomatoes (I used a variety pack from whole foods that has yellow, purple and red tomatoes)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled
5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 oz. Italian bread (I used Whole Foods' Tuscan bread), crust removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Large handful of basil (about 20 leaves), plus a few extra leaves, roughly torn
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
8 oz. Ciliegine (cherry size) fresh mozzarella balls
1. Preheat ove to 500 F. Combine both types of tomatoes, red pepper and garlic in a 9 X 13 roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir vegetables to coat with oil and salt and roast until the tomatoes have softened and become wrinkly and brown in places, about 45 minutes. Set aside to cool a bit.
2. Preheat the oven broiler with rack in the top position (about 4-5 inches from broiler). Toss bread with 1 tbsp. olive oil, spread out evenly on a large baking sheet, and toast under the broiler until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes, turning the bread every 30 to 45 seconds or so (watch carefully to prevent burning).
3. Add the basil to a food processor and pulse a few times to break up. With the machine running, slowly stream in the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil through the feed tube, then add the vinegar. Scrape down the sides and pulse again as needed for consistency.
4. Combine the roasted vegetables, bread, basil dressing and mozzarella balls in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Serve in large shallow bowls topped with torn basil leaves.