~ Caprese: Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Bites ~
I'm crazy for caprese, and, while these caprese bite appetizers are a bit fussy to make, they're fussy in a fun way. That said, when armed with a serrated knife and a grapefruit knife and spoon, I can hollow out the centers from about two dozen, 1" cherry tomatoes in about ten minutes (it's not rocket science). They're fun to eat too. Just pop the entire thing into your mouth -- all things caprese are compacted into one bite, and, there's no toothpick to throw away afterward.
That said, we all have our quirks. I'm no exception. Today's example: I love Italian dressing or vinaigrette, but I don't love creamy Italian dressing. I don't love Balsamic dressing or vinaigrette, but I do love creamy balsamic dressing -- especially if it is mayonnaise-based. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike creamy Italian or regular balsamic dressings, I simply have my (quirky) preferences. While I often make my own, like most folks, for convenience sake, store-bought dressings have earned a place in my kitchen. There is always a bottle of Wishbone Light Italian dressing on the door of my refrigerator, and, for a time, I happily kept a jar of Hellmann's Balsamic Mayonnaise there too -- until they discontinued it, which caused me to come up with my own:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and coarsely-ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
In a small bowl, thoroughly stir together all ingredients. Refrigerate one hour (or several days -- it stays fresh a long time) prior to serving.
shredded romaine lettuce leaves, to use as a stabilizing bed for the appetizers as a whole
as many 1" cherry tomatoes as you want appetizers, hollowed out as instructed in my post ~ How to: Hollow Out Tomatoes ~
bocconcini (small, fresh mozzarella balls), 1 per cherry tomato
small-medium-sized, fresh, whole basil leaves, 1 per cherry tomato
balsamic mayonnaise, for dipping, drizzling or dolloping (from above recipe)
freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for garnish
~ Step 1. Make a bed of lettuce on a serving plate. Arrange the hollowed out tomatoes on top of the lettuce. Place a small-medium-sized, whole basil leaf in the cavity of each tomato, allowing the pretty leaf tip to stick up straight above the rim of the tomato about 1/2". Place one bocconcini on top of the basil leaf and gently push down on the cheese to secure it in place. Garnish each appetizer with a dollop of balsamic mayonnaise and a grinding of sea salt and peppercorn blend. Serve same day made.
Serve ASAP or the same day they are made:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; serrated bread knife; grapefruit knife; grapefruit spoon
Cook's Note: For a variation on the same caprese theme, might I suggest you try a moist, juicy, chicken 'burger (containing diced onion, garlic and fresh basil instead of breadcrumbs). Just click on this link to check out my recipe for ~ Grillmarked: Ground Chicken Caprese-Style Burgers w/Balsamic Mayo ~. They're made in a grillpan on the stovetop (so you don't have to worry about bad weather grilling days to make 'em), and, they're drizzled with my balsamic mayonnaise too.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)