Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Stella® cheeses. All opinions are my own!
HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SUMMER, EVERYBODY.
All caps were highly necessary for that greeting because, in my opinion, summer is the raddest season and while we've had mostly summery weather in Boston lately, it is now officially the best season of the year. Yassssss.
I feel the happiest and most motivated during the warmer months and aim to live somewhere where winter is non-existent...eventually. I love beach days, BBQs, outdoor dining, and not having to wear huge snow boots and coats. Also, summer cocktails.
Jason and I actually purchased a new gas grill last week because the one we had was very sad and just had to go. We debated on just using our charcoal grill for a while to save some cash, but we ended up finding a super awesome deal on a new grill and decided to go for it. I love having both options for grills handy, especially with the hot weather! We're planning to use the stove and oven less frequently this summer.
So we've got summer officially here and a new grill to break in this season. What better way to welcome both than to make something fresh? Summer foods are where it's at, no?
And so the inspiration started to kick in with foods to make on our shiny new grill and when I was thinking of a tasty recipe for today's post using fresh mozzarella, my mind immediately went to a caprese and there was no shaking that thought. I love capreses and tend to binge on them during the summer months, but I didn't want to just share a caprese! I wanted something more; something slightly different! But still familiar, delicious, and easy. Because it's summer, you guys. And it's time to relax.
So I played with the idea of a grilled pizza and worked from that. Then I did some food shopping and came across a 16-ounce loaf of Francese from a local bakery and it hit me: A grilled caprese sandwich, open-faced style; enough to serve Jason, myself, and a few friends too.
I was pretty stoked to see that Stella recently added fresh mozzarella cheese to their line of goods because 1. fresh mozzarella is ♥ and 2. I like their cheeses! I frequently purchase their blue cheese and kasseri and now that I've tried their fresh mozzarella, that's on the list now too. It's soft, creamy, and maybe a little dangerous. At least, it's dangerous for me because I sometimes don't know when to stop when it comes to eating cheese. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
How To Make A Grilled Caprese
To start, you will need some tasty balsamic reduction, which you can make the day of or prep in advance. I recommend doing the latter, so that you save some time when making the grilled capreses. Besides, balsamic reduction will keep for a long time in the fridge.
To make the reduction, you simply get 1 cup of good quality balsamic vinegar and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Then, reduce to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring it occasionally, until it's reduced by half. Transfer it to another container, let it cool, and store it in the fridge. Easy peasy!
As for the rest of the ingredients for the sandwich, you'll need a 16 ounce loaf of awesome bread (get it from your local bakery!), 2-3 vine-ripe tomatoes, a small handful of fresh basil leaves, 12 ounces of fresh mozzarella, some olive oil, garlic cloves, and salt. I used a Francese loaf here, but ciabatta would also be delicious AF.
Start by mincing or crushing the garlic and add it to the olive oil with a pinch of salt and set aside. Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients to allow the garlic to infuse the oil a bit.
Then, take your giant loaf of bread and with a serrated knife, slice it in half horizontally. If the top seems too rounded to lay flat and keep the toppings in place, slice a thin layer of the bread off to flatten it out (then, snack on that tiny slice). After that, slice your tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into even-sized rounds. Then, thinly slice the basil leaves, making a chiffonade. Now, you're ready to move onto the grilling fun.
If using a gas grill, preheat on medium-high. If you're using a charcoal grill, set it up like you do. Add the bread to the grill, lower the lid, and toast it 1-2 minutes per side, then remove it from the heat.
With the sliced part of the toasted bread facing up, brush it all over with the olive oil, until all of the oil is used up and there is no garlic left behind! Notice if there are any holes at the bottom of the bread the oil is dripping through. If so, blot it up a little to avoid a greasy mess. Reduce the heat on the grill to medium.
Assemble the bread with cheese, tomatoes, and basil chiffonade, in that order. Alternately, you can overlap the tomatoes and cheese. Place your two giant open-faced sandwiches on the grill.
Lower the lid and let cook for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese has melted, the tomatoes have softened, and the bread is toasted.
Remove from heat and slice the grilled caprese into 6 rectangular slices to serve as a meal or 12 squared slices for an appetizer or snack.
Top with balsamic reduction and serve.
And don't forget about that $1.00 off coupon you can find here! You can use that dollar towards the ingredients needed for those many summer drinks.
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound Francese or ciabatta loaf
- 12 ounces Stella Fresh Mozzarella
- 2-3 vine-ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
Balsamic Reduction (Pro-tip: Make this ahead to save time!)
- In a medium-sized saucepan, add the cup of balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let come to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat when the balsamic has reduced by half. Move to another container and let cool. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
- Peel and mince or crush the garlic and add it to the olive oil in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add in the salt and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Slice the bread horizontally to create two flat pieces for your open-faced sandwich. If the top is too rounded to lay flat on a surface, slice off a thin layer.
- Slice the tomatoes and fresh mozzarella into even-sized rounds.
- Thinly slice the basil leaves, creating a chiffonade.
- Preheat the grill over medium-high heat.
- Add the bread to the grill, close the lid, and toast 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from heat.
- Reduce the heat on the grill to medium.
- With the toasted bread sliced side up, assemble with cheese and tomatoes. Top with basil.
- Return the open-faced sandwich to the grill, close the lid, and let cook for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese has melted, the tomatoes and basil have softened, and the bread has toasted.
- Remove from heat and slice into 6 rectangular pieces to serve as a main dish or 12 squares to serve as an appetizer.
- Lightly drizzle with some balsamic reduction and serve.