Winter Caprese Salad

The goal here is to remove most of the moisture from the tomatoes, which concentrates the flavor and turns bland winter tomatoes into tasty roasted ones.

serves 6 - 8

8 Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 large garlic cloves, grated or minced
sea salt
8 ounces fresh mozzarella (I used a tub of Bocconcini, which had 4 balls of cheese)
8 leaves of fresh basil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Glaze (optional) 

Preheat oven to 300° F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Place cut tomatoes on baking sheet, cut side up.  In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, the grated garlic and about ¼ teaspoons of sea salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Brush the cut sides of the tomatoes with the mixture until you use all the mixture. Place in the oven and bake for one hour.

After an hour, remove the pan from the oven and, with a spatula, gently press down on each tomato to flatten it and squeeze out the moisture. Be careful and do it slowly - the water in tomatoes will squirt out at you. Place the tomatoes back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 - 30 minutes, depending on how dried out you like the tomatoes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit.  Place the tomatoes on a serving platter.

Meanwhile, slice the mozzarella balls into 16 even slices. Place the cheese slices on top of the tomatoes. Drizzle the cheese with a few drops of olive oil. Sprinkle the cheese with just a little bit of sea salt.  Drizzle with the Balsamic Glaze, if you're using it. Julienne the basil leaves and sprinkle on top.  Serve at room temperature.

The Italian Dish