Fresh mozzarella, tangy balsamic & peppery arugula? Yes, please!
Whether you're planning a romantic meal for Valentine's Day or just looking for some weeknight dinner inspiration, this fresh, indulgent and delicious menu idea is a perfect fit. This recipe is a twist on the Caprese Salad — a staple in Italian restaurants everywhere. Although I love the classic combo of mozzarella, tomato and basil, especially in the summer when tomatoes and basil are at their best, I think I like this winter version even better. Best part? The cheese is seared in a pan and gets hot, melty and gooey.
When I was planning the perfect Valentine's dinner, this dish won hands-down for a killer first course. It'll cause your partner to fall in love with you all over again. Trust me ... it's happened. It's that good! Fresh mozzarella encased within a golden crust, sitting all wrapped up and warm atop a base of tomato, and crowned with baby arugula. The contrast of the cool salad to the warm cheese makes it exciting to eat, and the crunch from the golden, toasted breadcrumbs (yep, I said breadcrumbs!) adds a textural intrigue.
All this food talk has got to get you hot to hop into the kitchen and cook this for your honey. Let's get started!
- 2 slices of fresh mozzarella, about 1" thick
- 3 slices of tomatoes, 1/4" thick and cut in half
- Baby arugula, a handful
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, unseasoned or seasoned Italian (gluten-free or regular)
- 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Dredge each mozzarella piece into the egg wash and then coat with the bread crumbs. You can do this twice if you want — more crumbs to stick to the cheese! Set aside for now.
- Place three halves of tomato in the middle of each plate.
- Mix the oil with the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and combine with a wire whisk.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the dressing to the arugula and toss, coating well. Use a bit of the remaining dressing to drizzle over the tomatoes.
- Place a small non-stick skillet over a burner set to medium heat. Add enough olive oil to liberally coat the bottom of the pan.
- When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the dredged cheese.
- When the cheese turns golden on the bottom side, flip it over and brown on the other side. (Don't keep moving it, or it won't brown.) When golden on the top and bottom, turn on the side and brown around the entire edge. This about a minute in total.
- Remove immediately and place on top of the tomatoes. Top with the arugula and ...
- Serve immediately!
What drink would you like to have with this meal? What do you think would make a great second course? Leave your ideas in the comments below!