I love a caprese salad. It’s essentially an entire ball of mozzarella with the addition of a few tomato slices thus making it a “salad”. Did I eat a half pound of cheese for lunch? No… I had a “salad”.
This recipe takes that concept one step further by putting a caprese “salad” on top of a quinoa pile (which also has cheese in it) so you can really feel solid about your mozzarella intake.
Seriously though this dish is great for summer, you can make it in advance, the quinoa is very filling and you still get your cheese fix. And it’s pretty. Win.
Inspired by DomesticateMe
1.25 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed (if you are crazy and didn’t buy pre-rinsed) and drained
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
2 small shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cups basil, thinly sliced plus more for garnish
6 ounces part-skim grated mozzarella cheese
8 ounces fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/4 –inch rounds
2 large tomatoes (beefsteak is best), sliced into ¼-inch rounds
0.25 cup balsamic vinegar
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a small pot, cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside.
While the quinoa is cooking, place the halved cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast for 10 minutes until tender.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. When hot, add the minced shallots and garlic (adjust heat if needed, don’t burn). Cook for 2-3 minutes until the shallots have become translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
Combine the quinoa, roasted tomatoes, cooked shallots and garlic, and basil. Stir in grated mozzarella and season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Transfer the quinoa mixture to a large skillet (or glass baking dish) and smooth the top (I used a cast iron which makes everything better).
Starting in the center, overlap slices of tomatoes and mozzarella in a small circle (snagged you a pic for visual below). Make a second circle of overlapping tomatoes and mozzarella, covering the surface of the quinoa. (just make this assembly work however you can in your dish the key is to cover the surface with the cheese/tomato combo caprese style.)
Cover the skillet loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Turn your broil onto high and watch the cheese brown and bubble for a few minutes. Do not walk away from this process it will burn and you will be sad.
While your quinoa bake is in the oven, place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 3-5 minutes until the vinegar becomes syrupy. I overdid this the first time and ended up with balsamic glue so keep an eye on it. Remove from heat and set aside.
Sprinkle your quinoa bake with freshly sliced basil and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.