This is a show stopper of an appetizer. My brother and sister-in-law served these at their wedding. We recently had my Dad over for "linner" (you know lunch-dinner) and he brought all of the ingredients to make these. I think he fell in love with them at the wedding. My Dad has always loved eating food but this interest in cooking is pretty new. I'm still getting used to the fact that my Dad knows his way around a grocery store! Since he brought everything, it was very easy and fun to put it all together with him. (Excuse the piles of sippy cups drying in the background! Those plastic things never dry enough in the dishwasher, such is my life.)
All of my family enjoys the fresh taste of caprese salad, but these morsels are tiny finger food versions of the famous salad, which was perfect for my brother's wedding cocktail hour. Caprese salad consists of sliced tomatoes, sliced buffalo mozzarella cheese, layered with fresh basil. All doused in a wonderful balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing. Delicious when those items are fresh and in season, which is really what Italian cooking is all about. (See my post about loving the food in Italy here.) This version is perfect for people milling about waiting for the grill to finish your Disappearing Pork Loin or Easy Roasted Chicken and not feel like they are tied down to a plate. This would also be a fantastic recipe to bring to someone's house because it can be served as an appetizer or as part of the main meal.
Summer Fresh Caprese Salad Appetizer
Smaller cherry tomatoes
Buffalo mozzarella (this is NOT the same as mozzarella you use for pizza, Buffalo mozzarella is tender and soft and made from a combination of cow's milk and water buffalo's milk - hence the name)
Extra virgin or virgin olive oil
Slice the mozzarella into cubes around the same size as the tomatoes. Pull the leaves of basil off the stems and slice them into smaller pieces. Thread each toothpick with a tomato, a chunk of cheese, a basil leaf and repeat, leaving the toothpick ends showing out of both sides, which makes it easy to pick up. Place the completed sticks on a platter. Drizzle the appetizers with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, going easy on each. Taste your work and see if it needs more oil or vinegar. Serve with a sprig of basil on top for garnish.