This post is all about "Simply Delicious".
So for the first recipes I thought I would go with one of my favorite combinations out there: tomato, basil & mozzarella. Seriously, I could eat this combination every day. The great thing about this combo is that meals are very simple to make but are NOT simple in flavor. So I am giving you Caprese THREE ways. A bite sized party food, a perfect side, and a meal.
1) Mini Caprese Bites - I made these for our Christmas Party this last year and they were a HUGE hit. These are a perfect bite sized snack for any party any time of year!
-1-2 pts. cherry tomatoes, halved
-1 8oz container of fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, cut into thirds*
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
-Fresh basil leaves (thinly sliced)
-Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Thread 1 tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto each toothpick. Place toothpicks in a shallow serving dish. Whisk together oil, balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper. Drizzle oil mixture over toothpicks then sprinkle with basil.
Recipe from Rachael Ray
*1 (8-oz.) package fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, may be substituted.
Flavor Tip: You can serve immediately but you can also make these ahead of time and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes and it actually allows the flavors to combine.
Serving Tip: Don't know what to serve these in, try serving these in red wine glasses! They will be easy for people to grab plus they will add height to your party table.
Cooking Level: 1
2) Bruschetta - This is a staple in our house. I make this all the time. It is great as a "side dish" to any meal.
-6-8 Roma tomatoes
-1 pound Fresh mozzarella cheese
-1 bunch of Basil
-1 French baguette
-Olive Oil (one that tastes good and is made for dressings)
-Salt & Pepper
Turn your broiler on. Then dice up the tomatoes and cheese into fairly small pieces. Remember this is going on bread so you don't want large pieces but not so tiny you loose the flavor of the ingredients. Slice up the basil and place all three ingredients in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Go a little light at first and add more as you go. I tend to add more balsamic because I like the taste. Let the mixture sit so the flavors can combine and start cutting your bread.
Cut the bread on an angle about a 1/4" thick. Place the bread on a baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil on one side (you don't really need to do both sides as it will soak through a bit). Put under the broiler until the first side is golden brown. Flip the bread and toast the other side until it is a LIGHT golden brown. Then place the mixture evenly on all the pieces of bread and put back under the broiler until the cheese starts to melt. Serve immediately.
Recipe by Jenn
Cooking Tip: Don't brown the bread as much on the second side because you will put that side back under the broiler and you don't want the bread to get to dark. Plus if Roma tomatoes don't look good that day, get regular ones but slightly squeeze out some of the excess seeds and liquid while chopping. Roma tomatoes tend to have less juices.
Cooking Level: 1
3) Caprese Pasta - Kristen and I had this last night for dinner and though this probably should be enough for 4 normal people, the two of us managed to eat the entire thing with only moderate discomfort. Seriously, addicting.
-1 pound spiral pasta *Angel hair is also really good
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 2 pints)
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn or cut*
-8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
In a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. As the tomatoes cook and soften, smash them with a fork. Continue to cook until the tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4 minutes. Transfer the tomato sauce to the bowl with the pasta. Toss to combine. Add the basil leaves and mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the pasta is moist. Serve.
Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis
*TIP: I prefer to cut my basil, though some foodies may argue that this can bruise your basil a bit I have never had much of a problem. I will stack up my basil in a pile, roll it up long ways like a basil cigar and cut it into little basil strips. Perfecto!
Cooking Level: 1