Grilled Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I love to serve this "salad" when we barbecue. It is, of course a play on the well-known Insalata Caprese and, as such, must be said to be a dish that is assembled rather than made. Taste buds as old as mine are always looking for new ways to do old things and this sport does just that, creating a warm salad with a creamy texture that plays well against the flavor of blood ripe tomatoes and pesto. The dish consists of thick sliced tomatoes that are grilled prior to topping with fresh mozzarella cheese. They are then broiled until the cheese becomes soft and starts to run. The tomato stacks are topped with pesto and served while still warm. I cook mine in a grill pan because I feel more in control of the process, but they can, of course, be done on a gas or charcoal grill. I usually make my own pesto, my favorite being a combination of arugula and cilantro, but any well flavored pesto, including a commercial variety, can be used. I draw the line with the cheese, however. This dish is not worth the effort if you don't use fresh, best quality mozzarella. It's also important to keep your tomato slices about an inch thick. Slices thinner than that will turn to mush before the cheese topping has the opportunity to soften and lightly brown. I have one last observation to share with you. Serve the stacks as soon as you possibly can. The cheese tends to lose its milky color and yellow if it sits too long. Here's how we assemble and cook this warm Insalata Caprese.

Grilled Tomato and Mozzarella Salad...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, inspired by Jon Bonnell


4 1-inch slices of ripe tomato
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided use
4 1/2-inch slices of fresh mozzarella
1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
4 teaspoons pesto
Sea salt

1) Preheat oven broiler. Season tomato slices with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large grill pan until oil is wavy. Add tomatoes and cook over high heat until grill marks form, about 2 minutes per side. Do not overcook. Remove pan from heat.
2) Top each tomato with a slice of mozzarella and broil about 3-inches from heat, until cheese just starts to run. Transfer to serving plates. Top each stack with a teaspoon of pesto and drizzle with vinegar and reserved 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Serve immediately. Yield 4 servings.

You might also enjoy these recipes:
Warm Wild Mushroom Salad - Planet Green
Warm Salad of Frisee and Baby Spinach - Big Oven
Mom's Warm Potato Salad - Simply Recipes