While in college at Texas A&M in College Station, I used to meet a friend at a pizza place near campus that served pizza by the slice called Antonio’s. I always got the margherita. Nice thick slices of fresh mozzarella, perfect slices of red tomato and fresh basil on top of a delicious crust. If I’m ordering pizza at a restaurant, margherita is always on the short list. And when we make pizza at home, it’s one I know will be devoured. There’s something wonderful about the fresh ingredients, the contrasting textures of smooth and creamy cheese, juicy tomato and the slight crunch of the spicy basil leaf. And the bright colors can’t be beat either.
I made these small bites as part of an Italian appetizer spread. Just take a small ball of mozzarella, snack size tomato and fresh basil leaf. Add the sweet tang of balsamic vinegar and you have the perfect bite. You want the mozzarella and tomato to be close to the same size. Bocconcini are too large, so look for ciliegine, which are cherry sized balls of mozzarella and are perfect in size. If you can’t find these, you could always cut the bocconcini into small chunks. When I was skewering these I thought that the basil was going to be overwhelming since I had to use such large leaves to hold everything, but it was just right.
Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Bites with Balsamic Glaze
- 12 snack size tomatoes, cherry, grape, etc.
- 12 small balls of mozzarella packed in water, patted dry with paper towels
- 12-15 large basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 12 long toothpicks (2 1/2 inches)
- Make balsamic glaze: simmer vinegar in small saucepan over low heat for 10-15 minutes until thickened and reduced. Swirl periodically, and be careful not to let it boil. You will have a burnt mess on your hands. I know this because I had to make two batches…
- While heating vinegar, make skewers. Slide one end of the basil leaf on the toothpick, follow with mozzarella and tomato, keeping basil leaf underneath to create a boat. Then attach the other end of the leaf. Be careful not to tear the leaf. Keep a few extra leaves on hand just in case.
- Lay bites on a platter, then drizzle each with glaze. A little goes a long way.