Aren't these little soldiers cute? I first saw these at Mel's Kitchen Cafe and simply had to make them.
According to foodgeeks (anything containing the word geek is awesome), Caprese Salad basically consists of only a few ingredients: tomato, mozzarella cheese (from buffalo milk to be really authentic) and basil, then barely garnished with oil, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of spice. No cooking involved, which is wonderful when the air outside hovers in the 90s.
The original recipe suggested using fresh mozzarella. I first bypassed this container because all I saw was ciliengini. Turns out that ciliengini (also spelled ciliengine), according to 283K sites on Google, means cherry-sized balls of mozz cheese.
These little babies are so cute! About an inch in diameter. Since they are very small, they can be left whole if desired, but I suggest cutting them in half since they are expensive. You can instead cut an 8-ounce block of mozzarella into 1 inch cubes, about the width of the tomatoes. I splurged because I'm so want to make these for theDaughter's bridal shower/end of chemo party and wanted to do a semi-dress rehearsal. The only diff will be the use of fancier toothpicks, style to be
The hardest part of the recipe is skewering the components in such a way that they stand up. But if you'd rather save even more time, don't cut the cheese (sorry ...) or the tomatoes. Just assemble then lay the skewers on the side. They won't be as fancy-schmancy, but they will taste exactly the same.
Very slightly adapted from: Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Makes about 2-3 dozen skewers
Note: use flat toothpicks or skewers so everything is more likely to stay in place rather than "spin"
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (red, yellow or both)
8 ozs. fresh mozzarella cheese balls
12-36 (depending upon size) fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
couple pinches kosher salt and/or coarsely ground pepper (optional)
Remove any stems from the tomatoes, then cut them in half width-wise. Cut the mozzarella balls into halves as well.
Slide a mozzarella half, flat side down onto a toothpick.
If the basil leaves are tiny, leave them as is, otherwise cut leaves in half. Slide a leaf onto the toothpick, then stab a tomato half through the uncut end almost, but not quite, to the other side so the skewers can stand upright.
Place all the finished skewers on a paper plate or tray.
If serving right away, drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar and lightly sprinkle with salt and/or pepper. Transfer skewers to a serving platter (because if you are like me the balsamic vinegar will drip all over the place and look really gross).
Best served right away, but can be made a few hours in advance -- place undressed skewers in a tightly covered container in a cool location or the fridge.