I've discovered a new favorite lunch this summer, a bit of a twist on a classic caprese salad: roasted cherry tomatoes and mini bocconcini drizzled with a balsamic reduction. No matter how many days in a row I eat it, I never tire of it. It's super quick and easy too - I halve the tomatoes and toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast at 425 F for just about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are plump and juicy. With the creamy, mild mozzarella and thick and syrupy sweet balsamic, it's seriously one of the best combinations ever. Right up there with chocolate and peanut butter...sort of :)
But then, just a few weeks ago, I found a way to make my little lunch salad even better. Instead of giving the tomatoes just a few minutes in the oven, I cooked them low and slow - like 3-4 hours slow - until they were partially dried and caramelized. To say they were amazing wouldn't be doing them justice, they completely blew my mind! Their flavors are concentrated and slightly sweet, the rich maple flavor subtle but present.
The first batch I made didn't last long - the aroma kept drawing me into the kitchen where I'd sneak one after another from the baking sheet every time I walked by. If you can avoid doing the same, the good news is that you can store these in the fridge (and I've heard, though I haven't tried), they even freeze well! They're perfect for snacking, on pizza, in pasta or salads, or even as an appetizer on little baguette slices with some goat cheese - yum! It's the perfect way to use up some of the late summer tomatoes from your garden, or transform grocery store tomatoes into something special.
Maple Syrup-Roasted Tomatoes
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place the tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet, cut side up. In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, olive oil, thyme and garlic together. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Drizzle over the tomatoes.
Bake the tomatoes for 3-4 hours, or until concentrated and dark reddish-brown. Once cool, you can store them in the fridge topped with a bit of olive oil.