While it may have begun as a patriotic nod to the native land, caprese salad is now a colorful addition to tables around the world. The island of Capri is widely credited as the birthplace of this simple dish, which combines the Italian flag's red, white, and green. Although there are questions regarding the origins of the first caprese salad, there's no doubt about its popularity.
Caprese salad is a balance of tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella served as an appetizer, side dish, or weeknight dinner. Traditionally, the tomato and mozzarella for the caprese salad are thickly sliced and then topped with basil, seasonings, and olive oil. For this bite-sized variation, swap out the larger tomato for a smaller cherry tomato and put the ingredients inside instead of laying them out flat. This version is perfectly poppable while maintaining the same trademark flavors as the original. It's a great way to use cherry tomatoes and hits the mark when the goal is to create easy-to-handle finger foods.
The Ingredients For Bite-Sized Caprese Salad
Instead of starting with a traditional beefsteak or similar tomato, this petite version of caprese salad uses a tiny tomato. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each cherry tomato to allow it to sit flat. This simple fix makes them a better option than other small tomatoes -- like the grape variety -- which feature a more elongated shape and less structural stability. When you remove the top and scoop out the center of the cherry tomato, be careful not to create a hole in the bottom.
Look for fresh mozzarella packaged in liquid. This can be a solid log, sliced log, mozzarella balls, or pearls. Fresh basil leaves shine in this dish. Pick them straight from the vine, if possible. From there, you can cut them into strips to spread the flavor, wrap the mozzarella before stuffing, or use them as a garnish. Drizzle the tops with a flavorful olive oil to round out the Mediterranean flavors. Another option is to push a skewer through the caprese salad cherry tomatoes, lining up a colorful and inviting display of fresh flavors.
Play With Flavors
There's more than a few spins on the classic caprese salad. Sizing down to this poppable version is a start. You can play with your favorite flavors to emphasize the basil, cheese, or tomato. Try caprese skewers with a pesto drizzle, which allows you to amplify the basil flavor while infusing nutty notes and a bit of garlic. Alternately, add a drizzle of your favorite high-quality balsamic glaze -- another Italian flavor that pairs perfectly with the region's commonly used mozzarella and tomatoes.
If you don't have mozzarella or want to try something different, fill your cherry tomato with a dollop of ricotta cheese instead. It will deliver a creamier texture while maintaining the essence of this Italian dish. Ricotta is also easy to infuse with pesto to incorporate the basil flavors throughout.
For a hot take on this time-honored cold salad, use a slightly larger tomato, such as a campari. Take advantage of its round shape to stuff it with shredded or cut mozzarella, basil, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Top with seasoned bread crumbs and bake until the cheese melts and the tops are slightly browned.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.