Friday, December 28, 2007

Tomatoes Stuffed with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

Instead of the basic Caprese I had found this recipe at Bon Appetit, which looks nicer, although it is a little bit of more work.

The original recipe asks for the tomato skins to be removed, but I like them with the skin on. The tomatoes look shinier and brighter. But if you would like to take the skin off cut small skin-deep X on end opposite stem of each tomato. Drop tomatoes into saucepan of boiling water; cook for 30 seconds. Then move them to an ice bath. The peels will come off easily. Don't skip the ice bath, otherwise the tomato becomes softer outside than the inside, which makes taking the seeds off difficult.

It is much easier to scoop the insides of the tomatoes out using your hands. It is a little bit messier but you have more control over it, and won't damage the tomato.

I also have changed the vinaigrette from the original a little bit, and I'm listing the one that I use. You can also use this vinaigrette for marinading, it's really great. It was suggested that the vinaigrette gets served in a shot glass alongside each tomato; guests can drizzle it on to taste, which makes it look really nice. You can also place the tomatoes on greens of your choice to dress it up even more.

You can use the small mozzarella that are sold instead of the regular sized ones, they look better in the tomatoes if you just half them.

I have substituted feta cheese instead of the mozzarella and that also came out great. You can use fresh oregano instead of basil when using feta.


Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves (from 1 large bunch)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Sherry wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tablespoon minced shallots or scallions

Salad Ingredients:
6 medium tomatoes with stems still attached
2 7-ounce balls fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
6 fresh basil leaves

For vinaigrette:
Either make the dressing in your empty salad bowl:
Beat vinegar or vinegar and lemon juice, salt, and optional mustard in bowl to dissolve the salt. Then beat in the oil by droplets, and finally the optional shallots or scallions, and such seasonings as you feel necessary.

Or place all ingredients in a covered jar, shake vigorously to blend, and correct seasoning. Although the beating the oil in slowly will make it creamier, this is faster:)

For salad:
Cut 1/3 to 1/2 inch off end opposite stem of each tomato. Using small spoon, scoop out insides of tomatoes, leaving shells intact.

Mix cubed mozzarella cheese and chopped basil in medium bowl. Divide cheese mixture among tomato shells, packing gently. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover tomatoes and chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

Invert 1 filled tomato on each plate. Pour vinaigrette into 6 shot glasses. Place 1 shot glass next to each tomato. Garnish each tomato with basil leaf.

Makes 6 servings.

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