By Karin Calloway

Karin Calloway is a working mom living in Augusta, Ga., with multiple freelance jobs and a ton of dirty dishes.

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Warm Salad Caprese on Romaine Chiffonade

Caprese Salad has become part of the American culinary landscape. This classic Italian combination of fresh ripe tomatoes, mozzarella and basil now appears on the menus of upscale restaurants and chains alike. Many chefs are toying with the combination, creating caprese pasta dishes or using the combination to top hamburgers, and this recipe is a warm twist on the dish as well.

Instead of layering the tomatoes, cheese and basil or tossing them together, Roma or small ripe tomatoes are sliced open and filled with the basil and cheese before being warmed in the oven. The warm tomatoes are served atop a crisp, cool romaine chiffonade. The salad is dressed with a combination of prepared pesto sauce, olive oil and vinegar that’s a snap to whisk together.

  • 6 ripe Roma tomatoes or small "tomatoes on the vine"
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 12 small fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini) or 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head romaine, washed and cut into a chiffonade (about 1/4–inch thick)
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cut a deep cross in the top of each tomato. Season inside with salt and pepper, and stuff with a basil leaf and two mozzarella balls or cubes. Place on a baking dish or a standard muffin tin and continue with remaining tomatoes. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes begin to soften and cheese begins to melt. Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

While tomatoes bake, place the romaine chiffonade in a large bowl. Whisk pesto, olive oil and vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside until ready to use.

When tomatoes are done, toss the romaine with some of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more dressing, salt and pepper if needed. Toss again. Divide among salad plates and top with a warm tomato. Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette over the top of the tomatoes

Makes 6 salads.