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Appetizers, Salads

Winter caprese

Winter caprese
Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times

When Nancy Silverton spots a caprese salad on a menu in winter, she says, "I don't stay in that restaurant." Nothing is a surer sign of seasonal insensitivity than the routine tomato-basil-mozzarella assemblage offered up in months with R in ... Read more

Total time: 30 minutes, plus 4 hours roasting time | Serves 4

Pesto sauce

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or to taste

Step 1Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.

Step 2Using a mortar and pestle, pulverize the pine nuts, garlic, basil, parsley and salt into a smooth paste. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, mixing well to incorporate. Just before serving, season with lemon juice and additional salt to taste. Makes three-fourths cup.

Winter caprese assembly

  • 1 pound baby Roma tomatoes, on the vine
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality olive oil, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A couple of fresh grindings of black pepper
  • 1 pound burrata or mozzarella di bufala bocconcini
  • 4 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • 4 large basil leaves

Step 1Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the tomatoes with vines intact on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast 4 to 4 1/2 hours, until the skins begin to shrivel like a raisin but the tomatoes remain plump. (Sweet 100s will take considerably less time.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Step 2Divide the cheese evenly and place it cut side up onto four small plates. Season the cheese lightly with sea salt (skip this step if using mozzarella di bufala). Spoon 1 tablespoon of pesto sauce over each portion. Using scissors, snip a basil leaf over each portion. Top with tomatoes, divided evenly among each plate, leaving the vine intact (use scissors to cut the vine for each serving).

Step 3Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil (about one-half teaspoon per serving) and serve immediately.

Note: From Nancy Silverton and chef de cuisine Matt Molina of Pizzeria Mozza. Save extra pesto for another use. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the wonderful juices. Baby Roma tomatoes are available at Trader Joe's stores; you can also use Sweet 100s, available at Pavilions, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Burrata is available at Bristol Farms and Whole Foods stores and Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica.

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