Tomato Stall: Hasselback caprese tomato salad Recipe
Oh-so simple, a caprese salad needs top-quality ingredients to really shine. Try our oven-baked twist on the Italian classic.
Serves 4 Total Time 40 mins
Get the ingredients here
- 4 The Tomato Stall Isle of Wight Ultimate Tomatoes
- 70g basil pesto (we used Soli)
- 4 sundried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
- 1 ball buffalo mozzarella, torn into small pieces
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 garlic clove, cut in half, one half crushed
- 1 tbsp oregano leaves, finely chopped
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 slices sourdough
- 80g rocket leaves, washed and drained
- small handful of basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. Place the tomatoes on a board, stem side down. Cut slits into each tomato at 1⁄2cm intervals, making sure you don’t cut all the way through to the bottom.
- Mix the pesto with the sundried tomatoes and spoon a little into each slit. Follow with a little mozzarella and place the tomatoes on a roasting tray. Drizzle over 1 tbsp olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20-25 mins, until bubbling and softened.
- Meanwhile, make a dressing by mixing the crushed garlic with the chopped oregano, balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp olive oil.
- Just as the tomatoes finish cooking, toast the bread, then rub with the remaining garlic half and drizzle with oil.
- Serve the baked tomatoes with the rocket, dressing and sourdough toast, and finish with a scattering of basil.
PAUL THOMAS, THE TOMATO STALL
The Tomato Stall was founded in 2007 to showcase the specialty organic and conventional tomato varieties grown on our Isle of Wight and Paul Thomas has kindly shared their story so far.
“I grew up on the Isle of Wight so it will always have a strong place in my heart,” says Paul Thomas, managing director of The Tomato Stall. The island is famed as one of the most scenic places in England, and it’s one of the sunniest too, with more than 37 hours of sunshine a week compared to the national average of 29.7. This isn’t just good for holidaymakers; it’s great for tomatoes. “They need light to drive photosynthesis, which helps develop sugars in the fruit. Being surrounded by water intensifies the sunshine.”
Before the Tomato Stall was founded, Paul was one of the original crew tasked with packing a van with tomatoes and driving up to a London market. “It was exciting. Artisan produce was taking off in the UK but we had no idea what to expect. Before we knew it there were queues of people going round the block.” People went crazy for the flavourful organic tomatoes.
Today the company trials more than 150 varieties every year, ranging from juicy beef tomatoes to delightful golden plums. “We have a panel of 12 local people who taste everything we grow, scoring the tomatoes for sweetness, acidity, texture, aroma and flavour. We’re always pushing the boundaries of what people consider a tomato to be: there’s one with an almost apricot flavour, another with a lemony aroma.”
But there’s no science fiction happening here: everything is grown as naturally as possible. From the coconut husk that plants are grown in to the string that supports them, the growing system is fully biodegradable. The resulting compost is used to enrich the soil for the following year, improving soil fertility and structure and reducing the need for fertiliser.
“All of our tomatoes are left to ripen on the vine and picked at the peak of their flavour. When it comes to eating them, that’s how I think they taste best: straight from the vine, with a really good bit of oil, some red wine vinegar and plenty of salt and pepper.”