Calabrese bites are an appetizer that’s so simple the instructions hardly qualify as a recipe. But, despite being simple, it’s one of those things that doesn’t get much better when you use fresh ingredients.
These appetizers are made from just four ingredients – cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinegar. They replicate the taste of a calabrese salad in just one bite!
With so few ingredients, it’s important to use the best you can find. So, just-picked cherry tomatoes and basil leaves, fresh mozzarella, and a high-quality balsamic vinegar make the best appetizers.
For this particular batch, I used Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and basil just picked from the garden, substituted freshly made goat cheese for the mozzarella, and used an intensely flavored balsamic vinegar (aged 10 years). They were wonderful and no one even noticed that I’d substituted goat cheese for mozzarella (we always have an abundance of goat cheese).
When you drizzle on the balsamic vinegar, it will discolor the cheese and make the appetizers not quite as bright looking, but it’s what really gives them that really wonderful “pop” of flavor.
In addition to tasting great, they really add a bright display to any buffet. They are a bit tedious to assemble, but when I bring these to events, there are never any leftover to bring home. This is an appetizer that is always a hit when the cherry tomatoes are plentiful and the Sun Gold variety is especially tasty.
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (about 50) cut in half
- 50 small basil leaves
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces (I substituted fresh goat cheese)
- 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper (to taste)
Slide a tomato half, a basil leaf, a piece of mozzarella, and another tomato half onto each skewer.
Place skewers in a serving dish and drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the skewers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (you can omit the salt and pepper and they are still delicious).
Serve the remaining balsamic vinegar in a small dish alongside.