Mini Caprese Salad Bites

I’m not a big salad person, but I like Caprese Salad – the combination of mozzarella, fresh basil, tomatoes, and simple dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil; just thinking about it makes me drool.   When I saw the mini version here I definitely wanted to make it.  I don’t know about you, but I like to cook almost everything in “large” size.  I like to bake and decorate a cake rather than individually decorating a cupcake;  I prefer cooking an entrée than making appetizers.  I knew making the mini caprese will be tedious, but I wanted to try this. 

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1 large package of cherry tomatoes
8-10 sticks of mozzarella string cheese or 1 container pearl sized buffalo mozzarella
1 bunch of fresh basil
Kosher salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Rinse and pat dry the cherry tomatoes. Remove all stems. The tops of the cherry tomato are usually flat, so I cut off the bottom more rounded portion to get inside the tomato. Use a sharp paring knife cut a thin slice off the bottom. Scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or the paring knife. Discard the seedy centers. Place the tomato cut side down on a paper towel to drain liquid.

Depending on the size of your cherry tomatoes cut the mozzarella sticks into bite size pieces that will fit nicely in to the tomato.
Rinse and gently pat dry the basil. Hand tear generous pieces to go in the middle of each tomato.
I made them large and folded them to fit.

To assemble, line your scooped out cherry tomatoes on a cutting board or cookie sheet.
Season to taste with fresh ground pepper and kosher salt.
Line each tomato with a piece of basil, gently pushing it to the bottom of the tomato.
Top off with a piece of mozzarella.
Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Best served when cheese is at room temperature.

My opinion:
It didn’t disappoint!!  Yes, it’s rather tedious; I don’t think I can make this for a party, I think I’ll grow bitter.  However, for a family of 4 I faithfully scooped out the meat from the cherry tomatoes…  Wonderful taste of caprese salad bursting inside my mouth – it does pay to get really fresh basil, almost ripe tomatoes, and good quality mozzarella pearls.  I don’t think mozzarella string cheese will do, doesn’t have the same texture as the pearls. 

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