Monday, March 24, 2014

Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites

Craving caprese salad before peak tomato season? Try roasting the tomatoes first to bring out their natural sweetness and to draw out every ounce of flavor.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites | Taste As You Go
Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites

The sunshine and decidedly springlike temperatures of this past weekend were invigorating, weren't they? For the first time in a long time, I actually felt a bounce in my step and my productivity level sky-rocketed. Stephen and I even managed to get outside for a few runs around the neighborhood and our local park, something that neither one of us has done in a long time. It just felt great not to be all cooped up indoors for a change.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites | Taste As You Go
Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites

But, that feeling of euphoria was short-lived, as we're currently experiencing temperatures in the low 30s again with a [minor] snowstorm threatening to ruin all the fun. Honestly, even a minor accumulation of snow at this point is too much. Can't we just move on to spring? And stay there?

Please???

Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites | Taste As You Go
Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites

Then again, the recent weather and fluctuating temperatures and my impatience for spring to really be here inspired this recipe, so I guess I should give credit where credit is due. It was the sunshine that made me crave caprese salad, with thick slices of juicy tomatoes and fresh mozzarella layered with leaves of fresh basil and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Grape Tomatoes | Taste As You Go
Grape Tomatoes

I started with a pint of grape tomatoes. They tasted okay, but they weren't as sweet as they are in the summer months.

Grape Tomatoes | Taste As You Go
Grape Tomatoes

Grape Tomatoes | Taste As You Go
Grape Tomatoes

Instead of just using them fresh, I decided to chop them up, toss them with a bit of olive oil, and roast them to draw out their sweetness. That's where you should go, too.

Roasted Grape Tomatoes | Taste As You Go
Roasted Grape Tomatoes

There. That's better.

Fresh Mozzarella | Taste As You Go
Fresh Mozzarella

Next, cut the fresh mozzarella. You'll want the cheese to be able the same size as the tomatoes.

Fresh Basil | Taste As You Go
Fresh Basil

Fresh Basil | Taste As You Go
Fresh Basil

Then take some fresh basil leaves and julienne them into long, thing strips. Go fresh here... The dried basil won't do this salad justice.

Caprese Salad | Taste As You Go
Caprese Salad

When the tomatoes have cooled, place them in a large bowl along with the mozzarella and fresh basil. Drizzle everything with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper, and that's it! Your caprese salad with roasted tomatoes is finished and ready to eat!

At this point, you could totally grab a spoon and go to town on that salad. I wouldn't judge you. I couldn't judge you because that's exactly what I did... *ahem* But to jazz things up, I didn't stop here.

Athens Mini Fillo Shells | Taste As You Go
Athens Mini Fillo Shells

Athens Mini Fillo Shells | Taste As You Go
Athens Mini Fillo Shells

Athens Mini Fillo Shells | Taste As You Go
Athens Mini Fillo Shells

I decided to turn the caprese salad into a fun caprese salad bite with these Mini Fillo Shells from Athens Foods. The pastry cups are fully baked and frozen fresh, making them fast, versatile, and easy to use when preparing appetizers for a party or a get-together.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites | Taste As You Go
Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites

Or when you're mad at Mother Nature for threatening to delay spring from truly taking root and the only thing that can console you is the combination of "warm weather food" with "finger food".

Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites | Taste As You Go
Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites

These Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites are deliciously addictive, and the Mini Fillo Shells make them so easy to pop into your mouth. So... don't be surprised when you discover you've eaten half of the bites without the help of your husband less than 10 minutes after you've arranged them on your platter.

Oops.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 30-35 minutes | Yield: 30 appetizers | Printable Recipe

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, chopped
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 boxes Mini Fillo Shells

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss the tomatoes to coat. Roast the tomatoes for 10 minutes. Stir the tomatoes and return them to the oven to roast an additional 10 minutes. Set the tomatoes aside to come to room temperature.
  3. Turn the oven temperature down to 350°F.
  4. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the Mini Fillo Shells on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes to crisp them up. (The shells are pre-baked, so this step isn't mandatory, but I've found that it helps with the final texture of the bites.) Remove the shells from the oven and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss everything together and taste for seasoning. If desired, add salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Fill each Mini Fillo Shell with the tomato and cheese mixture and serve chilled or at room temperature.
Recipe by Michelle Rittler | Taste As You Go

Taste As You Go Disclaimer: I was provided samples of Mini Fillo Shells from Athens Foods at no cost to me. I did not accept monetary compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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