Tomato Mozzarella Melts – and our Hallmark movie road trip


We just returned from a four day road trip to Kentucky. Ricky and I had agonized for months on where we should go or what we should do for our summer vacation. I started up entire sections on the Front Porch forum and Facebook just to get ideas.

We couldn’t afford to fly four people anywhere and we didn’t want to drive more than six hours from home, but the main thing is that all four of us really wanted to do something we’d never done before but that all of us would enjoy – which leaves out skydiving, ziplining, anything to do with Nascar (sorry Ricky), and even white water rafting since I made a promise to God last time I went down the Ocoee that if He would let me live I would never do that again. ~breathes~

Don’t you just love run on sentences? I know I sure do!

So one night, just two weeks ago, I turned to Brady and said “Do you have any ideas?” He replied “You know, what if we just went all through Kentucky? We’ve never done that before. We could just go exploring.” Ricky and I looked at each other and shrugged. Why not? For some reason, other than my occasional pilgrimage to the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, we’ve never done anything in Kentucky, even though it is awfully close. So we circled a few days on the calendar and we set off to somewhere in Kentucky but nowhere in particular.

With our sole intent to connect with each other and just enjoy our family, and no agenda whatsoever, we ended up having a trip of a lifetime. We talked, we played little question games in the car, took turns deciding where we were going to eat and stay, stopped off at a few national parks, and laughed – a lot.

It was like a four day decompression retreat from the stresses of the world around us. Four days where nothing mattered beyond the most important people in our lives. Am I sounding like a Hallmark movie yet? Well, slap a “Movie – Of – The – Week” sticker on my forehead because thats just what it felt like.

Each day was filled with little miracle moments beginning with the very first day when the kids threw pennies in a fountain to make wishes. Katy turned around to us and said “You know what I wished for? I wished that Brady and I wouldn’t fight so much” Brady seemed to have a new awareness of his sister’s adoration after that. The next morning as Katy was standing looking out the window, I saw Brady walk over to her and put his arm around her to look out as well.

Yeah, the whole trip was like that. Well, except for the part where I tried Cincinnati Style Chili but we don’t need to discuss that one :).

When we got back I called our friend Jason, who has been keeping Teaspoon (the kitten) for us. Jason and I go way back (He was editor of the literary magazine in high school and I was junior editor). Jason was asking how our trip went and I did my best to expain to him how four days in a car, going nowhere in particular could be so meaningful for us. I mean, our “best” vacations up until this point have always involved princesses, a mouse and various roller coasters.

I told him I just can’t explain it but this trip really changed things for us. On the way home I pulled up a card with the question ‘What was your best vacation ever and why?’ One by one we each took our turn answering and one by one it came out that this road trip to nowhere in particular was the best vacation ever. No one could give a particular reason for it, but the look of joy and contentment on the faces of my family said it all.”

I tried to convey this to Jason by saying “I just don’t know. There was something about this trip. I mean, technically it was nothing special but it ended up being..”

Jason interrupted me and said “Sounds like it ended up being a trip that your kids are going to grow up and write about in their books.”

I know he couldn’t see me nod on the other end of the phone but that was all I could manage to do with the lump that had risen in my throat. I imagine Jason is right. Maybe this will be one of those memories they carry with them and eventually end up using as an example of how much we all loved each other. Maybe they will even write about it in a book someday. I bet they’re Mama will beat ’em to it though… ~grins~

Today’s post is quick and easy and one I go to at least a few times a week when tomatoes are coming in. I make these as a side dish with supper sometimes but I also like them as an evening snack or a quick lunch when it’s just me here. They’re super easy, fuss free, and done in no time at all. Best yet, if you have a garden, chances are most of the ingredients are right outside your door!

You’ll need: Tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil (fresh or dried), and kosher salt (or table salt if that’s all you have).

I’m using Roma tomatoes but you can use garden tomatoes if you like.

You can also just use shredded mozzarella if that is what you have on hand.

I have basil growing in my sunroom right now but I wouldn’t think twice about using dried basil or dried Italian seasoning on these. Personally, I think I could just about get by with Italian seasoning as the only herb in my kitchen. I even get the stuff that is 50 cents to a dollar a bottle.

A lot of folks will tell you that fresh herbs are the only way to go but oftentimes you’ll find those are the folks who don’t know what it’s like to look at  grocery list of necessities  and have to find a way to trim off enough to be able to pay for diapers and baby food. You’ll often find them in fancy grocery stores bemoaning our “ignorance” for not buying all organic and completely overlooking the fact that we’re paying our bills, raising our kids, and living on a budget. I don’t know any mother who wouldn’t love to provide her family with all of the finest grocery stores have to offer, but I also don’t know many who can afford to pay double what they currently do for groceries. Yessiree,  A dollar bottle of dried Italian Seasoning tastes just as good now as it always has :)

Oh, I’m done with my rant now.

If using Roma tomatoes, slice them in half lengthwise. If using garden tomatoes, slice them 1/2-3/4 inches thick.

Place in metal pan and sprinkle tops with kosher salt.

Be sure you use a metal pan for this because we are going to be cooking it pretty rapidly under a very high heat and glass just isn’t designed to be cooked with in that way.

Place under the broiler on high and cook for anywhere from 3-5 minutes, watching carefully.

I cook mine until it gets lightly wrinkled on the skin.

You can just cook it just long enough to heat it through if you like though.

I love tomatoes in any cooked form but don’t care at all for raw tomatoes. I’m weird like that. Actually, I’m weird in many other ways too but today we’ll focus on my odd raw tomato aversion.

If you’d rather not cook it under the broiler like I do, you can just put it in a 500 degree oven for 5-7 minutes.

Remove tomatoes from oven and top with slices of fresh mozzarella and bits of torn basil.

(remember, you can also just sprinkle with some dried basil or dried italian seasoning)


Tomato Mozzarella Melts
  • Tomatoes*
  • Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
  • Fresh Basil, torn (or dried basil)
  • Kosher Salt (or table salt)
  1. Slice tomatoes into thick slices (if using smaller tomatoes, just slice in half). Place in metal pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes or in 500 degree oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and top with slices of mozzarella and basil. Return to oven for 2-4 more minutes, or until cheese is fully melted. Serve warm.
  2. *For tomatoes- If using Roma, slice in half down the center. If using Garden tomatoes, slice in thick ½ -3/4 inch slices.
  3. Serving Size: This will serve as many as you allow tomatoes for. I usually allow two slices per person. This is one of those recipes that you just adjust the quantities based on how many you want to make, which is why it makes a perfect lunch for one!

Your attitude is the aroma of your heart. If your attitude stinks, it means you’re heart isn’t right.

~Facing The Giants film


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  1. Coleen says

    Thanks Christy for sharing your road trip to Kentucky, a place I have always wanted to see. Its a little harder for me to get there though I live on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I think I would have to plan at least 2 weeks. Although I love raw tomatoes(sliced thin and sprinkled with fresh ground pepper, and
    seasalt).yummy i do like them cooked too. My favorite way is thick sliced, grilled on the BBQ

  2. Cindy says

    These are my favorite kind of getaways – just get in the car and go. Any place for the weekend that is within driving distance of your home. It also helps if you have a wonderful map reader in your family. My husband is the BEST! Scams out all the cute little towns, and keeps me off the interstates (which I hate). I always laugh cuz my brother says we should get a Tom Tom GSP because they are so handy – but I think what do I need one of those for when I have my Mark Mark! We love to drive through the south, especially North Carolina. Beautiful!

  3. Jamie Hines says

    I soooo agree! I love tomatoes cooked in any form or fashion. I could carry a ketchup bottle in my purse I think! I always take my bottle of ketchup from home to Sonic with me cause they never give me enough packs! haha….like you though I HATE raw tomatoes! Yuck! It’s good to be different though! :) I love Southern Plate!!!

  4. Ally says

    Christy, some of my favorite times growing up were meandering trips with no deadlines. The one that really stands out is a spur of moment trip we took to the Smokies when I was in 6th grade. Fall color was at it’s peak and everything was gorgeous. That was a wonderful weekend, and almost 40 years later, I haven’t forgotten.
    These tomatoes look great. I’m thinking I may have to try them today.

  5. Lana says

    HI, I stumbled upon this website tonight and fell in live with it… Kristy I love the recipes and the stories that come with. I live in KY and took a special interest when I saw you had written about your vacation. I am so glad that you and your family enjoyed our beautiful state. We have so many wonderful places to visit… since we live here and it’s always been available… I think we take it for granted. It’s a reminder for me to look around my surroundings.
    I also like to read your recipes and have printed out a few to try.
    Thanks so much for all your work.

  6. Rita Bashor says

    Can you make these in the microwave? I am needing a italian appetizer for an upcoming Valentine dinner at church and these seem like a possibility.Are they good at room temp.after being cooked?Thanks

  7. Aaron Carson says

    Rant on. I feel exactly like you do about the cheap stuff. I use the one at wally world 2 for a buck and you can’t tell the difference. I love this recipe but have not tried it on roma. I usually use sliced but they seem to thin so I will be using the romas next time. Had a tone of them this past summer and also put some whole romans in the freezer.

  8. Christa says

    I am running back to the store just to get these items to go with my Slow Cooker Coke Chicken and Strawberryade…can’t wait till supper…Chicken is smelling wonderful!! I know when my three guys walk in the door they will be asking, “What’s for supper? It shore smells good!”

  9. Ruth Dickinson says

    When my girls were younger and I was a single Mama we couldn’t afford much of any kind of trip. What we could do is go to the library and get info on sights to see that we could get to and back home in one day. We would get up early,pack the cooler and go! We went to a lot of interesting places around our state. If we came to a fork in the road or a road ended and we had to go left or right we flipped a coin. We also ‘discovered’ some great places we hadn’t read about! It was great fun and made a lot of good memories.

  10. Carolyn Paul says

    Thanks for sharing your VOAL (vacation of a lifetime) with us, Christy! It is wonderful to be able to reconnect on a trip like that! About the recipe…I do pretty much the same thing with slices of tomato, mozzarella, basil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on the two halves of an English muffin! Wonderful beyond words!!

  11. margaret moss says

    hi christy i just love all recipe . on some of your recipe you are using some dishes that looks back tn the 1920 . were they some family . iwould like to find some .iam in to the old dishes just leave me e.mail be seein ha

  12. Eliza More says

    I am opposite 😉 I can’t stand ketchup except on homemade fries (mainly because my brother put it on everything when we were growing up (and I mean everything) so I probably did opposite of him :) ) Any how, I love tomatoes any other way they are awesome I can eat them like an apple with some salt or cook them or whatever….any how a similar recipe I saw on a cooking show a few years back and everyone loves them when I make them is to take tomato and sliced it (like your pic for tomato pie or if you were going to make fried green tomatoes) then you lay them out on a foil covered baking sheet spoon some pesto on them, then sprinkle REAL parmesan on them and bake 350 about 15 min (keep an eye on them) they are even awesome cold the next day or reheated! …oh and can sprinkle some salt on them as well if you like.

  13. Whitney says

    First-time visitor here. Thank you so much for this recipe, it was delicious! I had a bunch of Roma tomatoes that needed to be used up soon, so I used them in this recipe and was not at all disappointed. it was so simple, too! And I think even my very picky fiancé will like them :) Thanks again!


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