A Truly Scrumptious Appetizer – Fresh Mozzarella Bocconicini with Oven Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto Oil

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There’s no big story here, these juicy little numbers speak for themselves. I make them frequently, and they are always a huge hit at parties, garnering many requests for the recipe. Wanna know why? I will tell you: They are low-carb, vegetarian, bite-sized, served at room temperature, nice to look at, and uber-yummy. Does my husband eat them? Of course not.

 

Kitty’s Fresh Mozzarella Bocconicini with
Oven Dried Tomatoes and Basil Pesto Oil

Enough For a Party

10 Fresh Roma (Plum) Tomatoes
20 Fresh Bocconcini Mozzarella Balls (Little Cherries), Marinated in Olive Oil, Basil, Garlic & Red Chili Pepper
Salt & Pepper

For the Basil Pesto Oil
2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves
½ Clove Fresh Garlic
¼ Cup Pignoli (Pine-Nuts), Toasted
½ Cup (or more) Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt

Step 1: I usually buy my mozzarella a few days in advance, because you may only find them packed in water, and you want a couple days to flavor them. If that’s how you find them, drain the water, and cover them with good olive oil, adding 2 fresh basil leaves, 2 dried red chili peppers (or pepperoncini flakes), and a couple of smashed garlic cloves. Store in the refrigerator till use.

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Step 2: On the night before you are ready to serve, prep your tomatoes. Remove their cores, slice them in half lengthwise, salt them liberally, and arrange them on a foil lined cookie sheet. Place them in a 250 degree oven for 3-4 hours…4 hours is better. After their time is up, turn off the temperature, but don’t open the oven! The tomatoes are going to dry even further overnight.

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Step 3: You should awaken to beautifully shrivelled, oven dried tomatoes. Set them aside till party time. If you are making them to bring to a party, store them in a container, and assemble everything at the party. Before you put them away, admire the way they now resemble little wrinkly hearts.

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Step 4: It would be ok to use a jarred pesto sauce, but I far prefer making one that has more than the normal amount of oil, so that it can be drizzled over the tomatoes. In a blender, pulse all ingredients except the oil, slowly drizzling the oil in until you have a nice consistency. If using a jarred sauce, add some extra oil, and try to buy one that doesn’t contain parmesan cheese.

Step 5: Time to eat! Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Assemble your tomatoes on a serving platter, and push a mozzarella ball down into the center of each tomato. There will be some oozing here, so push gently, but you want to make sure you aren’t just laying the cheese on top of the tomato, otherwise they will roll off onto your guests laps. When all the bocconicinis are sufficiently cradled, drizzle each one generously with the basil pesto oil.

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This little batch of heaven was served at my Mom’s house last weekend for a big BBQ/Pool Party. They were eaten up very quickly, but I do wish I had warned everyone that you really do have to eat them in one bite…my Grandpa tried the first one, and wound up wearing half of it on his perfectly white t-shirt for most of the day.

 

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