Caprese Salad Appetizers
Caprese salad may just be one of the best things about summer. A bounty of fresh, aromatic basil and bright, plump cherry tomatoes makes it easy to serve up this seasonal favorite in a variety of ways. For summer entertaining, my favorite method is this simple appetizer. These small bites are just enough to get the party started on a fresh note.
To add a bit of fun to the dish, I’ve collected them into one delicious mouthful with the help of plant markers. By constructing the appetizers in this way, your guests can enjoy fresh flavor on the go. The picks are simple to make. I found these wooden ones at a craft store and painted them with chalkboard paint, providing a blank canvas for my summertime message.
The recipe is so simple, but there are a few things to consider. For best results, a serrated knife is the right tool. Rather than press and slice, simply drag the knife across the delicate tomato in a sawing action and let the teeth of the blade do the work. Also, be sure to stir the balsamic glaze occasionally while reducing and check for consistency every couple of minutes after the 6 minute mark. The final glaze should be the consistency of light syrup.
The plant marker picks will require drying time. Consider making them in advance. The appetizer takes about 20 minutes to assemble. To speed up the process before serving, cut the mozzarella rounds and make the glaze in advance. Chill until ready to assemble.
photo by Sam Henderson
Use a serrated knife for best results when cutting tomatoes. Poke the plant marker straight through the center of the layered appetizer.
- 20 cherry tomatoes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella slices
- 20 fresh, medium-sized basil leaves
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
You will need:
- Small cookie cutter (about 1” diameter)
- Serrated knife
- Plant markers
- Chalkboard paint
- Small paint brush
- Chalk pen
- Prepare the plant markers by painting the writing surface with chalkboard paint and a small brush. Allow to dry completely before proceeding. Write your summer party message with a chalk pen. Set aside.
- Make the balsamic glaze by heating the vinegar and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer until reduced to a third in volume (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper. Stir and allow to cool completely.
- Prepare the tomatoes by slicing off a tiny bit of the bottom with a serrated knife to create a level surface so the tomato will stand without rolling. Slice the tomato in half horizontally.
- Use the small cookie cutter to make 20 small rounds of fresh mozzarella. Fold a fresh basil leaf over a mozzarella round and sandwich between two halves of tomato. Insert the plant marker in the top center of the tomato and through to the bottom. Place on a serving dish and refrigerate until ready to serve. Drizzle balsamic glaze over appetizers just before serving.