Confession Time: I made a batch of Baked Salad Caprese Appetizers the other day, and then binge-ate the lot while binge-watching “The Crown.” Can you blame me? Each bite is a triple delight! I love the crisp baguette base, the fresh tomato and melted mozzarella center, and the fragrant basil leaf topping. The snacks are a breeze to make. Just be sure to make them while paste tomatoes are in season.
Baked Salad Caprese Appetizers are nothing new. My mother made them at least one time in the early 1970s. I remember this, because we devoured the snacks while watching Carol Burnett portray Joan Crawford in “Mildred Fierce.” Carol and the appetizers were equally unforgettable.
Here’s the step-by-step recipe for 18 appetizers:
Slice half a sturdy baguette into 18 1/2-inch-thick rounds.
Arrange the rounds on a baking sheet, brush them with extra-virgin olive oil, and bake them at 450°F until they are crunchy-crisp and slightly browned — about 7 minutes.
While the bread is toasting, grab a serrated knife, and cut 3 ripe paste tomatoes into 18 slices. Paste tomatoes (‘San Marzano,’ ‘Plum Regal,’ ‘Tiren,’ etc.) are specified here, because they contain more flesh than juice. The abundant juice from standard tomatoes will result in soggy appetizers.
Next, slice up some fresh, good-quality mozzarella cheese. And please remember that the best mozzarella is the kind you make right in your own kitchen.
Top the bread with the tomatoes, and season them with kosher salt and grinds of black pepper.
Then top the tomatoes with the mozzarella…
And bake the works in the hot oven until the cheese melts — about 7 minutes.
Garnish each appetizer with a basil leaf…
A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil…
And a small pinch of kosher salt.
Eat the appetizers while watching endless episodes of the Carol Burnett Show on YouTube.
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