Did you know that Caprese salad was purposefully created to resemble the colors of the Italian flag? This fantastically simple and delicious antipasto dish featuring juicy, red, vine-ripe tomatoes, fresh white mozzarella, fragrant green basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, is one of my very favorite summer staples. But what’s a caprese-craving girl to do when summer and those juicy red goodies are still months away????
How about adapting the traditional version, which alternates sliced layers of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil into a mini-version featuring always-sweet-and-juicy grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella pearls, basil pesto, and balsamic vinegar? That, my friends, is precisely what I did for a dinner party this past weekend. The result?? Let’s just say that those miniature little Italian beauties vanished in mighty short order! (Added perk: this antipasto dish is ridiculously easy to assemble, takes very little time to prepare, and even less time to devour. YAAAHHHH!!!!!)
Tomato & Mozzarella Caprese Skewers
(Yields approximately 50 individual skewers)
- a 16-ounce container of grape or cherry tomatoes
- a 16-ounce container of fresh mozzarella pearls
- 1/2 cup basil pesto (at room temperature)
- Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Aged Balsamic Vinegar for drizzle
- Approximately 50 sandwich picks
Alternately thread mozzarella pearls and grape tomatoes onto sandwich picks and place them in a bowl, trying your very hardest to NOT pop them into your mouth in the process. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so. Prior to serving, spread a thin line of basil pesto along one side of the skewered tomatoes and cheese. (See basil pesto recipe below.) I used the back of a teaspoon for this; however, I suspect that a small spatula (all of which were in my dishwasher at the time) would probably work better.
Arrange the skewers in a serving dish, drizzle a tablespoon or two of Balsamic vinegar over them, and lightly season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Now, finally — ENJOY!!!
(Makes about 8 ounces)
- 1 bunch of basil leaves, rinsed, dried and removed from larger stems
- 2-3 large garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (I actually prefer asiago cheese because of it’s more robust flavor)
- 1/3 cup olive oil + more if needed
- dash of salt and pepper
- dash of red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients in a mini food processor or blender and chop/grind until well blended. If pesto seems too “dry”, drizzle a little more olive oil in until you achieve the desired consistency. Pesto can be refrigerated for 3-4 days and frozen for up to three months.