Baked Lemons with Mozzarella
- 4 large unwaxed lemons
- 8 fresh, unsprayed lemon, basil, or bay leaves
- 1 pound fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 8 fresh basil leaves
- 4 anchovy fillets, halved
- 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 dried red chiles, crumbled (optional)
- Grilled baguette, slices for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a work surface, trim both ends of lemons so they stand upright; cut crosswise 1 inch thick rounds. Using a small knife, remove flesh from interior of each lemon round, forming 8 hollow rings. Discard lemon flesh or save for other use.
Spread lemon leaves in a single layer 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top each leaf with a lemon ring. Place a slice of mozzarella inside each lemon, and top each with a basil leaf, anchovy fillet, cherry tomato, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with dried chiles, if desired. Top with another slice of mozzarella.
Bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool slightly. Serve with grilled bread, if desired.