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~ Caprese: Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Bites ~

IMG_4506I'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.

6a0120a8551282970b01a3fd422b86970bThat 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: 

IMG_3924For the balsamic & basil mayo:

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.

IMG_4520For the caprese bites:

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

IMG_4486 IMG_4489 IMG_4495Step 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:

IMG_4515Caprese: Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Bites:  Recipe yields instructions to make as many appetizers as desired and 1/2 cup balsamic mayonnaise.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; serrated bread knife; grapefruit knife; grapefruit spoon

IMG_3860Cook'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)


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