Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hot Caprese Dip with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Pesto Swirl

Hot Caprese Dip with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Pesto Swirl
There are a few certain dishes that I always crave during the Summer. And one of those would have to be a caprese salad. Especially when you can make the salad with some juicy heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and creamy mozzarella. I mean, nothin' beats it. So, when I came across a recipe for Hot Caprese Dip, I knew I just had to make my own version. It seems simple enough... tomatoes, cheese, basil all baked in a dish and served with some bread, but there was only one problem. The tomatoes cause the dip to have a lot of moisture, making it somewhat watery. Well, this can easily be solved by roasting the tomatoes until they are concentrated and the excess moisture has been cooked out. I especially love roasted cherry tomatoes just because they are already perfectly sweet and bite-size, but you could use another tomato if you prefer. I loaded up the bowl with cubes of mozzarella cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes, julienned fresh basil, and a drizzle of homemade pesto. I did this by layering all of the ingredients until all of them had be used up. I'd say I had about 3 layers total. Then, all you have to do is pop this bad boy into the oven until all the cheese has melted and it's ooey-gooey-delicious. After it's been pulled out, I garnished the top with a swirl of more homemade pesto and fresh basil, just 'cuz it's purdy like that. You can serve the dip with crackers if you really want, but the way to go is with some toasted bread rounds. I also made a honey-balsamic reduction to drizzle over the top of the crostini because we're fancy like that. This really is the perfect late-afternoon summer snack!! Enjoy :)
For the Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:
2C Cherry Tomatoes, Cut in Half & Cleaned of Seeds/Juices
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

For the Hot Caprese Dip:
16oz Fresh Mozzarella, Cut into Small Squares
Prepared Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Homemade Pesto
Balsamic Reduction
Salt & Pepper, To Taste

1. For the Roasted Tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepared the cherry tomatoes by cutting them in half and removing the seeds, as well as any excess moisture. I did this by spooning out the insides, and then placing the tomatoes onto a paper towel to dry slightly.  Next, toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out in one even layer on a baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes for 25-30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and caramelized. Set them aside until ready to use.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place one-third of the mozzarella into a serving bowl, and then layer on top of it with a drizzle of pesto, roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, and pepper. Repeat this process until all of the ingredients have been used.
3. Bake the dip in the oven for 20 minutes, and then broil the dip for just a minute or two until the top is slightly golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and drizzle the homemade pesto in a swirl over the top of the dip. Garnish with some fresh basil. Serve the dip with toasted bread rounds and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Enjoy immediately with a big glass of wine. 

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