Thursday, February 10, 2011

Caprese Skewers

From Mel's Kitchen
1 pint cherry tomatoes, red or yellow
1 bunch basil leaves (about 18-30 leaves, the big ones can be cut in half or thirds)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
2-3 dozen long toothpicks/skewers
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half so you end up with two half-basketball pieces. Slice the mozzarella into bite-sized chunks. Slide a piece of mozzarella onto the toothpick. Fold a basil leaf in half or thirds and nestle it up next to the mozzarella (large leaves can be cut into halves or even thirds). Slide a tomato onto the bottom of the skewer, cut side down. Move the mozzarella and basil down to meet the tomato if needed. You want the flat side of the tomato to be right at the end of the toothpick so it stands up straight. Place all the finished skewers on a paper plate or tray. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar and transfer to a platter to serve.
*I couldn't resist this little appetizer when I found Mel's recipe on her site.  I have to admit, they were meant for our Superbowl Party, but I didn't get them ready in time (okay, that might not be completely true--these take just minutes to pull together, I guess I just wanted them for myself!).

Barefoot Contessa Capellini with Tomatoes and Basil

From A Bountiful Kitchen
1/2 cup olive oil (next time I'll use 1/4-1/3 cup, it was just a little much)
1-2 cloves minced garlic
4 pints small cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ pound dried capellini or angel hair pasta (fresh or dried)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add two tablespoons of salt to the pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat the ½ cup of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, thyme, two teaspoons salt, ground pepper, and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for five minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften.
3. While the tomatoes are cooking, add the capellini to the pot of boiling water and cook for two minutes (if using fresh), or according to the directions on the package. Be careful about overcooking the pasta.  Using tongs, remove the pasta from the pot of water and add to the cooked tomato mixture in the saucepan.  Don't worry about water on the pasta, the dish needs a little of the pasta water to have the right consistency.
Pour the pasta and tomatoes into a large serving bowl.
4.  Add the Parmesan and fresh basil, and toss well.  

5.  Serve immediately with additional grated Parmesan cheese.

*I found this dish very simple and satisfying.  I must repeat this in the summer when I have a garden of tomatoes and basil.  If it were up to me, this would be a regular at my house, but I've got to respect my husband's indifference to tomatoes--I'll save it for a garden harvest!  I used about a pint of grape tomatoes and then added 3 or 4 Roma tomatoes.  It was great.