Independence Day Greetings and an All-Time Cafe Favorite; Tuscan Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Skewers w/ Basil Oil

Wishing you festive holiday greetings as, here in the U.S.A, we commemorate our 237  years of national independence.

Just as many of you will be spending time away from home with family and friends to celebrate this patriotic holiday , so will we here at The Café. To help you inspire your culinary enjoyment over the long weekend, we’ll be sending out a few old time favorites. Recipes from deep within our archives that still make our mouths water and cause us to smile in delightful anticipation ………… like these fabulous Tuscan Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Skewers w/ Basil Oil. It’s really perfect for and appetizer or a salad. We love to serve it, as a nibble, when our guests arrive as they mingle, catch up and enjoy each other’s company but also as a light, flavorful side dish with grilled burgers, ribs, chicken, etc……..To me, this salad is pure and unadulterated ………….. SUMMER! …………………
…………………..  simply bursting with flavor; miniature heirloom tomatoes, fresh from the vine,  their sweet juices exploding with each bite, creamy, soft, fresh mozzarella, salty, briny Kalamata olives and last but certainly not least – a double dose of delicious basil – tiny, spicy leaves along with a fabulous basil oil that is surely the essence of summer!

Use whatever type of small tomato you can find; cherry, grape, heirloom. I love to use a mixture of yellow, red and any other color I might spot at the market or growing in the garden. The balls of fresh mozzarella (official name is boconccini – isn’t that fun?) are available at most larger groceries.

I grow the tiny-leaved Spicy Globe Basil and I just tuck a few sprigs here and there but any type of basil is fine. If your leaves are large, you can just fold them in half and skewer them in between the other ingredients.

You’ll end up with more basil oil than you’ll need for this recipe but no worries; it’s fabulous drizzled on chicken, fish, veggies and it makes a delightful salad dressing when combined with a splash of good balsamic vinegar. Serve it in small pretty bowls with a shower of freshly ground black pepper for dipping bread at the table.

If you’re having a dinner party and want a simple yet impressive appetizer, stand these on end in a pretty glass surrounded by some crisp, warm crostini. Don’t serve too many ………….. they’ll be quickly scarfed up and there won’t  be room for your wonderful dinner! And. as I pointed out earlier, these flavorful skewers also make a delightful, light salad, served as it’s own course or along side your entree.
You decided, your family, friends and guests will be thrilled when these beauties roll out!

Tuscan Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Skewers w/ Basil Oil

Ingredients:
24 large pitted olives
16 small balls of fresh mozzarella (boconccini
16 cherry, grape or small heirloom tomatoes, red, yellow, purple, etc
fresh basil, sprigs of tiny-leaved basil or large leaves
Basil Oil (see recipe below)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Thread olives, Mozzarella, basil and tomatoes onto skewers in any order you wish. Repeat.

2. Arrange on plates, drizzle with Basil Oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 4 (2 skewers per person)

Basil Oil

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup olive

Directions:
1. Rinse and drain basil leaves. Pat leaves dry with a towel. In a blender or food processor, combine basil leaves and olive oil. Whirl just until leaves are finely chopped (do not purée).

2. Pour mixture into a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until oil bubbles around pan sides, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until cool, about 1 hour. 2. Pour mixture into a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until oil bubbles around pan sides and reaches 165° on a thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until cool, about 1 hour.

3. Place a very fine wire strainer or a regular strainer, lined with two layers of cheesecloth,  over a small bowl. Pour oil mixture into strainer. After oil passes through, gently press basil to release remaining oil. Discard basil. Use for salad or cover airtight and store in the refrigerator up to 3 months. The olive oil may solidify slightly when chilled, but it will quickly liquefy when it comes back to room temperature.

Makes 1 cup 


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