This week I'm sharing my process of catering a friend's wedding — a rather large affair involving 200 guests and plenty of appetizers. I needed at least a few menu choices that were easy, no-cook, and make-ahead. Today's "recipe" was not only a perfect choice for the wedding, but, thanks to all of these easy-going attributes, a wonderful appetizer for smaller parties as well.
So, if you need a no-cook, make-ahead hors d'oeuvre this summer, may I suggest tomato-mozzarella caprese skewers?
This isn't an original idea (we've even talked about it before here at The Kitchn), and for good reason. Tomato-mozzarella salad epitomizes summer living, Italian-style, and putting it on a stick is simply an easier way for a crowd to enjoy it. It also ensures a perfect ration of cheese to tomato to basil. And if you want to continue counting up its virtues, it's also gluten-free and vegetarian. Truly a crowd-pleaser.
You can use any sort of skewer or toothpick to make these caprese bites. I used these 4-inch bamboo skewers from Restaurantware.
As far as the mozzarella goes, I chose the ciliegine, or cherry-sized, mozzarella balls. Depending on the brand available at your grocery store, you may find slightly larger sizes, or smaller, such as the perline variety. Personally I liked using mozzarella that was about the same size as the cherry tomato, so I tried to match them up.
I include here an optional pesto drizzle, which does put these over the top. However, bite-sized mozzarella balls like these are frequently found in marinades of olive oil, pepper, and herbs, and if you can lay your hands on that good stuff, just use the marinated cheese and skip the pesto entirely. Even easier.
Tomato & Mozzarella Caprese Skewers
Makes about 16
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3/4 ounce fresh basil
4 ounces ciliegine (cherry-sized) mozzarella
1 tablespoon pesto, optional 1 to 3 teaspoons olive oil, optional
Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash and dry the tomatoes. Fold a large basil leaf around the tomato, then spear on a 4-inch-long skewer or toothpick. Add a mozzarella ball to the toothpick. Repeat.
If desired, whisk the pesto with enough olive oil to form a thin sauce, and drizzle over the skewers. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over them.
You will probably have some leftover tomatoes; you can get creative and add a second tomato to each skewer if you want a bigger bite.
If the mozzarella balls are marinated in herbs and oil, as my Costco-sourced mozzarella was when I made these for a wedding, skip the pesto entirely.
These can be made up to 24 hours ahead and stored in the refrigerator. The basil does wilt a little, but they still look fine.