In the wake of post Superbowl feasts, parties and soirees, I'm sure many of your refrigerators look as bad as mine does right now. Tin foil wrapped bowls, assorted mystery condiments and odds and ends are running amok in the old chill box. Somehow we acquired a cooler full of various foodstuffs from a party we attended in San Diego this weekend. Among the acquisitions were at least a dozen plain white dinner rolls. The rolls and a pint of near forgotten cherry tomatoes were the base components for the idea of this gratin. I realize I am interpreting the term gratin rather loosely, but whatever you want to call it, its pretty darn good.
Caprese Gratin with Balsamic Poached Tomatoes
3 round white dinner rolls
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 oz mozzarella
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp salted butter
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp Parmesan reggiano cheese, shredded
3 cloves garlic
In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Place thinly sliced onions in pan and cover with melted butter. Slowly cook until the onions are caramelized, stirring often.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully slice dinner rolls with a serrated knife into 1/4 inch slices. Combine olive oil with grated Parmesan, salt and pepper. Grate garlic cloves with a zester or microplane and add to oil mixture. Stir thoroughly, and using a basting brush spread oil on slices. Place slices on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
While slices brown, place balsamic and tomatoes in a small saucepan. Place over medium low heat until simmering. Stir gently and cook for 10 more minutes at a simmer, until the skins of the tomatoes start to blister. Remove from heat.
In a casserole dish, place an even layer of caramelized onions. Pour reduced balsamic vinegar and poached tomatoes gently on top of onions. Top with toasted roll slices, and place thinly sliced pieces of mozzarella between slices. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until cheese is just melted. Remove from oven, garnish with fresh basil and serve.
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