The last holiday weekend of summer is upon us. It’s a weekend dedicated to grilling and eating. A tribute to all the fresh flavors of summer, if you will. I can think of no better way to do that than to showcase tomatoes and basil; they’re both at their peak in my garden right now. And in my book, you can’t have too many tomatoes. Or basil. Or fresh mozzarella bites. Or basalmic vinegar simply reduced into the best darned syrup worthy of anything lucky enough to wear it.
I can guarantee the “ooh and aah factor” with this riff on a Caprese-salad-turned-bite-sized-appetizer. Not only is this flavor combination perfect in every sense, the final product is so charming and has been known to
make me do spastic dance moves when I put each bite in my mouth guarantee your A-List status for future parties.
I like to make a few of these and set them on pedestal cake stands as a centerpiece on my kitchen table or scatter them around the areas where my guests and I hang out while the grilling is going on. Whatever the case, they’re a one-handed appetizer which leaves your other hand free to use for other very important tasks.
If you’re feeling creative and able to get your hands on some purple basil, it might be fun to change this up a bit. Try using yellow pear tomatoes with purple basil on a head of green or purple cabbage.
Whichever way you choose to go, don’t forget the balsamic syrup simply made by pouring approximately 1/4 cup into a small saucepan, heated over medium low heat until reduced and thickened. It doesn’t take long, and if you take it too far and it’s super-thick, just add a little more balsamic vinegar to thin it out. So easy and so delicious!
There’s really no official recipe for this but here’s what I used and how I did it:
Red grape-sized tomatoes
Fresh green basil (fold each leaf before placing on the skewer)
Fresh mozzarella bites in water, drained on paper towels
Head of purple cabbage
Flaked sea salt (such as Maldon)
Balsamic vinegar syrup (made as explained above and cooled)
Toothpicks, undecorated and round
Thread each toothpick with a tomato, folded basil leaf and mozzarella cheese. I put approximately 20 pieces on each head of cabbage. You could do more or less. Trim the bottom of the cabbage so it sits flat and steady. Place on plate or stand and being inserting picks at the top and working downward. Just before serving, drizzle with balsamic syrup and sprinkle with flaked salt.
Tip: If you want to avoid the appearance of condensation on your cabbage, do not refrigerate it before assembly. The one pictured in these photographs was refrigerated out of necessity. Since they’re a snap to assemble, I usually keep everything except the mozzarella bites at room temperature before assembling.