|Chilled pear soup , diced caprese salad, coconut black rice|
|Bacon wrapped dates, arugula lemon salad, chocolate ginger balsamic glaze|
Chilled Pear Soup (served as shooters)
Coconut Black Rice (served in Chinese soup spoons)
Arugula and Lemon Salad (with the addition of paper thin lemon slices)
Chocolate Ginger Balsamic Glaze (mixed in with and garnishing diced fruit)
Diced Caprese Salad (or Topping for Bruschetta)
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
1/3 cup diced red onion, (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (optional)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
Mix tomatoes, cheese and onion (if using) in a bowl. Reserve some small basil leaves for garnish and roughly chop the rest. Stir in chopped basil, all but one tablespoon olive oil, vinegar (if using) and salt. Set salad aside. Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to hot pan. Cook chopped olives for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally then remove from oil and set aside with reserved whole basil leaves for garnish. Serve salad in small bowls with garnishes. Or top sliced, toasted baguettes with salad. Or stir in diced toasted baguette pieces for a bread salad.
Hints: Using larger tomatoes and dicing them up is fine. As always, garden tomatoes are the best! Taste to adjust salt, oil and vinegar to get it just how you like it. I don't pack the basil down to get the 1/4 cup, they are just loose leaves. Also great tossed with angel hair pasta. I often omit the toasted olives.
One of my all time favorite dishes. I never tire of this combo and crave it in the winter but the tomatoes are never quite right from October to May. One of the best things about summer is a vine ripened tomato!
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates
12 pitted dates
6 slices partially cooked bacon
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons roasted small pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
Carefully slit each date open. Stuff blue cheese crumbles into the cavity and top with 6 or 7 pepitas. Cut bacon slices in half and wrap 1/2 a bacon strip around each date. Secure with a tooth pick. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
Hints: The bacon needs to be almost fully cooked in order to crisp up nicely by the time the cheese melts. (I buy the Hormel brand at Costco that is already cooked.) Larger dates are easier to work with. Don't slice all the way through the date or the softened cheese will melt out. You could substitute chopped pistachios for the pepitas and another semi soft cheese for the blue. These can be made ahead, refrigerated and cooked on the fly during a party. I replaced the toothpicks with cocktail forks in the above photo--which is great for a tasting party.
This is a take off of a sandwich I blogged about earlier. Sweet, savory and salty all at once. (It is a good sandwich!) Taking your favorite dishes and tweaking them into appetizer dimensions may be a bit challenging but nearly always results in a NEW favorite.