Sizzling Cast Iron Caprese

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We're close, yet still so far from being completely settled into the new place and while we really love it, we're missing lots of our friends and family. Thankfully, we'll get to see everyone at our housewarming party in a few weeks and in the meantime, LA is providing us an abundance of entertainment, food and the company of LA friends we missed when we lived down south!

Just this past Friday we happy hour'd with good pals and fellow food enthusiasts Dominique & Charlie at our new local bar and reminisced about all the times we promised to eventually live in the same city and make dinner parties a regular event. We talked about upcoming travels, long-term dreams, the contents of our freezers and our love of dips. Yes, dips. Dominique let on that Charlie tries his hardest to eat most of his meals in dip form, which gave us the perfect opportunity to run our housewarming food plan by them. Three dip contenders were dissected and ultimately we decided we'd make the two finalists, one of which is featured in this post! 

What we love so much about this dip is the blend of flavors as well as the variations you can make pending what's in your fridge and pantry. Switching pine nuts to walnuts and basil to arugula in the pesto recipe can give you a completely different flavor profile. 

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A variation of cheeses can also be considered. Classic pesto contains pecorino, which is delicious and nutty, but this go 'round we opted for parmesan since we had a fresh block on hand. We like grating it as finely as possible before mixing it in. 

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Insert bacon: 

You can add it as the final layer before baking or wait until it's sizzling and sprinkle it on before serving. We like both methods, because bacon. 

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Without further ado...we introduce the dip we ate in its entirety after we took the photos: 

Sizzling Cast Iron Caprese

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INGREDIENTS
8 oz cherry tomatoes
3 oz goat cheese
4 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
bacon
pesto

For the Pesto: 
2 cups fresh basil
1 tablespoon garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Ingredient Prep
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and place as a single layer in a cast iron skillet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. Drain all of the excess liquid out of the cast iron. Set aside. 
 
Meanwhile, line a small plate with a folded paper towel. Dice the bacon and cook on medium high until visibly crisp. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and allow pieces to drain on the paper towel lined plate. Set aside. 

For the pesto: 
In a food processor, add fresh basil, garlic and pine nuts. Pulse until blended. Drizzle in the olive oil until pesto appears smooth. It may appear to need more olive oil, but refrain from adding it - the other liquids in the dip will compensate. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese. 

Assembly: 
Top the roasted tomatoes with crumbled goat cheese, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Add a generous layer of the fresh, sliced mozzarella. Drizzle with desired amount of goat cheese and crumbled bacon. Bake at 420 degrees until bubbling. 

Use anything on hand as a vessel. Bread, crackers, a spoon...this is a no judgment zone.