For some ungodly reason, it was 98 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday. We don’t have air conditioning and my good fan, a huge oscillating beast, broke down. The last thing I wanted to do was cook anything that required heat or that would make me feel any warmer.
Thankfully I’d had the foresight to ask Mark to pix up fixings for a simple tomato basil mozzarella salad. It’s slightly more labor intensive in assembly than I’d typically like, but the cool, fresh burst of cherry tomato mixed with the flavorful basil and delicious fresh mozzarella made the extra time investment worth it. The roomies were also pretty happy when I sprung it on them. (Brie was splayed out on her bed desperately trying to will herself to feel cooler, which, if I am honest, is how I spent much of my day, too.)
I usually pull these out for special summery occasions, but they work great as a weekday side. They look impressive, taste great, and don’t require as much effort as similar appetizers. Pair them with heavier foods if you’d like, but they also help keep things light.
Unless you eat 12 of them at once. (Shhh, don’t judge me).
Let’s get to assembling, shall we?
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
- Squeeze bottle basil (I use Gourmet Garden's Fresh Basil Paste)
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Box of toothpicks
- Special tool: silicon brush
- If the mozzarella comes in large chunks, cut into ½" cubes.
- Lay out all of your mozzarella chunks in front of you on a large cutting board, making sure they are in a single layer, not touching eachother.
- Squirt a generous dollop of basil paste on each mozzarella piece, one-by-one.
- Take a single cherry tomato and slide it onto a tooth pick. Follow with a piece of basil-covered mozzarella, basil side sandwiched between the tomato and the cheese.
- Repeat until you run out of tomatoes or cheese (I usually run out of cheese first).
- Whisk together oil and vinegar.
- Brush generously over all of the assembled appetizers.
- Sprinkle with a light dusting of salt and generously pepper (or to taste).
- Move to a serving platter (if you want things to look pretty) and enjoy!
She lives in the Bay Area and cites her diverse background as her biggest influence: her visual artist mom is half-Chinese, half-Greek, and from Hawai’i; her film-loving, world-music curating dad is from Montana; and she lived in both California and Montana while growing up. She loves at least a little bit about virtually everything (Pokémon Snap included) and aims to be a Jane of all trades. By day Cat is a multiple-hat-wearing media person.
She is also allergic to felines.