Oh my goodness! This Summer has been busy, but we've had some great time traveling and spending time as a family. I'm sorry that I haven't posted in forever. I've got a quick, easy, delicious and fresh recipe for you.
I love Summer because of all the fresh product readily available. My parents have grown a huge garden every year since the time I was little. I loved going out and picking fresh veggies, especially tomatoes. I'm not sure what else is better than a perfectly red, delicious vine-ripened tomato from your own garden. We started our own garden this year and we planted several varieties of tomatoes. We also planted basil, so I've been in heaven.
I love Caprese Salad and this is a little twist that makes a perfect appetizer or light lunch. You only need 4 ingredients: tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinegar. You need to use fresh mozzarella---not the hard, brick kind that you would grate for pizza. Fresh mozzarella is usually sold in a ball and the texture is really soft. The fresh stuff is a more expensive so I usually buy it at Costco in their specialty cheese section. I also love the Kirkland brand Balsamic vinegar too. I like using a balsamic reduction rather than just straight balsamic vinegar because it sticks to the tomatoes better, it doesn't absorb into the cheese, it tastes a little sweeter and that acidic "bite" is mellowed. And it makes for a gorgeous presentation. You can make the balsamic reduction while you assemble the skewers, so it really doesn't take extra time. You can make the kabobs a day or 2 ahead of time, but the tomatoes taste better if not refrigerated so I like to make mine the day I want to serve them.
Here's what you need: This made about 30 mini skewers.
-1.5 lbs. of cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes)
-1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into cubes
-12 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
-1 small pkg toothpicks (I like to use the ones with the wispy stuff on the tip)
-1/2 C balsamic vinegar
1. Put balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer about 10 minutes, OR until the mixture starts to thicken to a honey-like consistency. If you accidentally simmer it too long (molasses-like consistency), you can add a little extra balsamic vinegar and then simmer it again to the desired consistency. Remove pan from heat and set to the side.
2. Use 2 cherry tomatoes and 2 cubes of cheese for each toothpick kabob. I alternated every other one on the toothpick. Continue doing this until you have made the desired amounts of kabobs. Place them on a plate or serving platter.
3. Right before serving, drizzle the balsamic reduction over the kabobs and sprinkle a little coarse sea salt over them. You will not use all of the reduction, so you can save leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.
Enjoy and Happy Cooking!
Here's the printable recipe.