In the winter, canned tomatoes make the absolute best Caprese (tomato and mozzarella) salads because they are picked at the peak of ripeness and their summer flavor is locked in. When you slow roast those canned tomatoes you concentrate their flavor even more as they become gorgeously browned and caramelized in the oven. Here, instead of being paired with mozzarella in a salad, those glorious tomatoes are piled onto crisp toasts spread with basil pesto for a flavor-packed party appetizer you can eat with your hands. As an alternative, you can skip the toast and layer everything into Bibb lettuce cups instead.
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
Sixteen ½-inch thick slices of baguette, cut on a diagonal
1/3 cup prepared basil pesto, store bought or homemade
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly into 16 slices
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Flakey salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Drain the can of tomatoes, reserving the juices for another use, such as a soup or stew. Cut each tomato in half lengthwise. Use your fingers to gently remove the seeds for the tomatoes, then place the tomato pieces onto the prepared sheet pan, cut side up. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then place in the oven and roast until the tomatoes are darker in color and browning around the edges, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Allow them to cool to room temperature. The tomatoes may be made up to 4 days ahead, kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
While the tomatoes are roasting, make the toasts. Brush the slices of baguette on one side with the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons of oil. Place them, oiled-side up onto a sheet pan and place in the oven until they are golden-brown and toasted, about 20 minutes. The toasts may be made one day ahead stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
When you are ready to serve, spread about 1 teaspoon of the pesto onto each toast. Top each with a roasted tomato, a slice of mozzarella, and one medium or two small basil leaves. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
Makes 8 appetizer servings
Serving size: 2 toasts
Per serving: Calories 230; Total Fat 15 g; Sat Fat 5 g; Protein 8 g; Carb 14 g; Fiber 0 g; Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 360 mg; Total Sugar 2 g (Added Sugar 0 g)