Because of the time of year I first made this, I think of it as my Christmas Caprese, but I didn’t want its title to shackle it seasonally. Not least, you could argue, because nobody’s really got any business buying cherry tomatoes in December. But, frankly, if you don’t live somewhere warm, the tomatoes you buy in August are not necessarily any sweeter or juicier than those bought in the bleak midwinter. Anyway, I can’t start apologizing for my unseasonal and unlocal approach now. I buy the tomatoes from my local greengrocer and that’s good enough for me. I mean, do I want to be eating nothing but cabbage and parsnips all winter?
I had thought that this approach to the simple tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad would not have much currency in Italy, but I hear that Italian supermarkets now stock tomatoes in winter, even if their greengrocers—quite rightly—won’t. So, for anyone who buys tomatoes when they shouldn’t, and wants to help them up their game: this is the recipe for you. But you have to know that if I didn’t feel it was a bonus in its own right, I wouldn’t include it here.
In short, I roast the tomatoes to intensify their flavor, let them cool, and then dot these sweet and sticky heat-wilted blobs of red around some of the best mozzarella I can get my hands on. Instead of strewing basil leaves (also unseasonal) around, I blend a cupful of them to a pool table-baize green purée with a little olive oil; you’ll need an immersion blender for this, or at least I do.