Ciliegine and Tomato Bites with Kalamata Olive Drizzle and Fresh Basil
- 20 to 25 small grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 40 to 50 small fresh basil leaves
- 8 ounces ciliegine,* drained and patted dry, halved
- 1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Kosher salt, for garnishing
- *Note: Ciliegine are cherry-sized balls of fresh mozzarella, available at upscale cheese markets and some gourmet grocery stores. If these are unavailable in your area, simply substitute 1-inch cubes of fresh mozzarella.
Using small decorative cocktail skewers or bamboo toothpicks, skewer 1 tomato half, 1 basil leaf, and 1 ciliegine half onto each, in kabob-fashion, with the basil leaf sandwiched between the mozzarella and tomato halves and the cut side of both tomato and mozzarella facing each other. Repeat until you have used all of the ciliegine halves. You should have about 3 1/2 dozen. Arrange on a small serving platter and set aside.
In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine the olives, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, oregano and salt and process until smooth. Drizzle the olive mixture over the tomato-mozzarella skewers. Sprinkle the entire platter with kosher salt, then serve.
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