I did a few appetizers for a gathering Gary had last week. I admit, I got a late start on what I needed to do so I chose a few quick and easy options. Both of these looked beautiful on the presentation, and took only a few minutes to make. Most of the time I go 100% home-made, but as I was pushing for time I took a little help from some pre-made options.
Roasted Tomato Caprese Bites
This may be the easiest appetizer in the world, while also being beautiful and rich.
15 large cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
Salt and pepper
30 bocconcini mozzarella balls
15 large fresh basil leaves – cut in half lengthwise
Reduced balsamic glaze (like Blaze Truffle Balsamic Glaze) for garnishing
Preheat your oven to 410 degrees. Toss tomatoes in olive oil, balsamic and garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper. Pour on to a foil lined cookie sheet. (The balsamic becomes quite black and sticky so the foil will help save your pan.) Roast at 410 for about 30 – 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are well caramelized. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, squeeze each tomato to allow any excessive moisture to come out (some moisture is fine, but you don’t need them to burst as you try to wrap them.) Top each tomato half with a bocconcini and wrap them both with a basil leaf. The moisture left in the tomato and in the cheese should be enough to help the basil stay in place, you can secure with a pick though to make sure they stay together. Place on your serving dish and continue. When complete, drizzle the balsamic glaze over the plate for decoration and to give a hint of truffle essence and sweet balsamic to each bite.
Prosciutto Wrapped Pesto Polenta
Either 2 cups home-made polenta, spread onto a cookie sheet about 1/2 inch thick to harden; or 1 16 oz log of pre-made polenta
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese
1/3 cup basil pesto (either homemade or pre-made) – pesto will hang around a surprisingly long amount of time without going bad in your refrigerator. I always have some on hand.
30 basil leaves
¼ teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
10 thin slices prosciutto – cut in half horizontally, and vertically so you have 4 pieces from each slice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice your prepared polenta into 1 1/2 inch squares. If you are using the packaged polenta the flavor is bland so you will need to season lightly with salt and pepper. Top each square with a dab of pesto, then a good sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Wrap each square with a piece of prosciutto with the ends meeting on the bottom of the square. Place each square on a cookie sheet. Repeat until the ingredients are used. You should have just enough for a full two cups of polenta. Bake at 350 for about 7 – 10 minutes until the pesto and cheese are bubbly. Serve warm.