Not too long ago, my beau generously offered to pick up a vegetable for supper and came home with broccoli. Sounds great, right? Only he was unhappy because broccoli was his second choice that he only got because the store was out of the vegetable he really wanted: tomato mozzarella salad. “But tomato mozzarella is NOT a vegetable!” I said. He responded that it had tomato….uh nope. Tomato is not a veggie. Just because it’s called caprese salad doesn’t make it a vegetable. Fruit salad, for instance, has not a single veggie in it.
He may have been disappointed, but I was happy to have a real vegetable on the table. Look, I’m down to eat caprese all day everyday, but it’s maybe not the healthiest decision. That said, it did get me thinking about how I could make us both happy. I adapted this salad, which combines the tomato/mozz goodness of a caprese with the healthy benefits of a green super-veggie like asparagus. Add some pesto and you’re in business.
Here’s the recipe with my tweaks:
Preheat your oven to 375. Chop one bunch of asparagus into 1-inch pieces and halve a bunch of grape or cherry tomatoes. Place the asparagus and tomatoes on a baking sheet and lightly top with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the asparagus and tomatoes from the oven and set them aside to cool. Yes, I like cooking these ingredients so they get that roasty flavor, but I like serving them at room temp. I also prefer roasting the tomatoes with the asparagus so there’s not such a contrast between the two when you’re actually eating the salad. Also because this gets the tomatoes so sweet and full of flavor. Once it’s cooled a bit, combine with halved bocconcini (small mozzarella balls), pesto to taste, and a sprinkling of crushed red pepper. I like that little kick at the end.
This caprese feels more like a side than a salad and because of the roasted element, it doesn’t feel like a summer-only salad. This is the kind of thing you can eat all year long. Happily.