We boost the flavour of these mini caprese appetizers with a marinade and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. A couple of shortcuts make them even more appealing if you’re short on time. And how cute would they be for Christmas!
We made these for Jenna’s baby shower last month and they went in a flash. They’re made with fresh Mozzarella or Bocconcini, fresh basil and baby tomatoes. We like to marinate the cheese in a vinaigrette to enhance the flavor. The balsamic reduction gives them a nice oomph too. We prefer to drizzle it on the platter (for dipping) as it tends to ‘bleed’ on the cheese. Just a preference.
Regarding the cheese, you can cut up a ball or two of fresh Mozzarella (buffalo Mozzarello is great too) or Bocconcini which is similar – just smaller balls. We found mini Bocconcini in a tub at Costco which we cut in half for the baby shower appetizer – the perfect size.
Tailor To Your Taste
- add an olive or salami to the skewers
- add chopped basil or another herb to the vinaigrette
- use a bottled vinaigrette such as Italian for the marinade
- skip the marinating time and just toss the cheese in the vinaigrette
- use a store-bought balsamic reduction
- Simple recipes for vinaigrette and balsamic reduction are provided in the recipe below if you prefer to make them on your own.
Make Ahead Caprese Appetizers
- The marinating and assembling can be done the day before. Store the skewers in the fridge, covered. You can make your own balsamic reduction the day before as well.
- If you can, assemble the skewers a few hours ahead to keep the basil at its freshest (but they’ll still be ok if you don’t)
- Drizzle the balsamic reduction on the platter/cutting board, then add the mini caprese skewers just before serving.
Mini Caprese Appetizers Recipe
- 20 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (gently squeeze out juices)
- 20 mini bocconcini cheese, cut in half (or cut 40 1/2-inch cubes from fresh mozzarella balls)
- 40 fresh basil leaves (or cut large leaves into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces)
- 1/3 cup Italian/Vinaigrette dressing (NOTE 1)
- balsamic reduction for garnish (NOTE 2)
- 40 toothpicks
- MARINATE CHEESE: Mix cheese and Italian dressing and let marinate for 30 minutes or overnight. (Note 1 to make your own vinaigrette).
- ASSEMBLE SKEWERS: For each appetizer, set half tomato on board/plate (cut side down); pierce tomato through the top with toothpick; place basil leaf on top; then add cube of cheese. (Make ahead: Note 3)
- PRESENTATION: Drizzle Balsamic reduction (Note 2) in any pattern on a platter or cutting board. Place appetizers on top. Serve.
- To make your own vinaigrette, whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon or grainy mustard, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch of dried or fresh herbs if desired.
- To make your own Balsamic reduction, bring to boil 1 cup Balsamic vinegar and 1-2 tablespoons honey. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes to a syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally (it will coat back of spoon). Cool.
- To Make ahead: After Caprese appetizers are assembled on toothpicks, they can be put in fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for a few hours or up to a day. Drizzle Balsamic reduction on platter and plate skewers just before serving.
Here are two other appetizers you might like: