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How to Make a Tomato Mozzarella Appetizer

Tomato and mozzarella make a delicious appetizer that is simple to prepare and impressive to guests. Whether you want to use skewers, bruschetta, stylish plating, or cored cherry tomatoes to make your appetizer pop, it is sure to wow any guest. You can even toss them together to make an Italian style salad.

The Mozzarella

The first step is to find a mozzarella that will really tickle your taste buds. This isn't any block of cheese that you find at the supermarket. To get the best out of this appetizer, you're going to need something fresh and delicious. If the mozzarella isn't in a ball shape, it's not what you want. Try specialty stores, organic stores, and farmers markets to find the best of the best. Bonus points if you can talk to the person who made it herself.

Fresh mozzarella has a clean, fresh taste, while smoked mozzarella has a more complex flavor. If you smell the mozzarella and it has a stronger scent, that means it has been smoked. The type you prefer will depend on your personal taste.

The Tomatoes

The second note in our flavor melody is just as important. We've all had watery, bland tomatoes from the supermarket. Not only will this not add much to your appetizer, it can dull the flavor of the cheese and leave your mozzarella watery. A firm, ripe, and delicious tomato, on the other hand, will add the perfect counterpoint. Again, try out those farmers markets to get the freshest of the fresh.

The type of tomato you use will affect both the flavor and the presentation, so choose wisely. A large beefsteak tomato will have a heavier, almost meaty flavor, while a tiny cherry tomato will be light and slightly sweet. Vine ripened tomatoes strike a nice balance between these two extremes. You may even use canned tomatoes if you're going to use bruschetta, although the flavor may not be as fresh.

Whatever type of tomato you choose, make sure to get some that are properly ripe. They should be fully red, unless you use a specialty variety, with firm flesh. Ideally, keeping them out of the refrigerator will keep them from getting water and maintain their firm texture.

Companion Flavors

The first and most obvious flavor companion to tomato and mozzarella is basil. This herb brings out the flavors in both beautifully and adds a fresh, crisp flavor of its own. You can use dried basil or fresh, whole leaves or chopped, whatever best compliments the look and flavor of your dish.

Balsamic vinegar is another winner with these appetizers. Sweet and tart by degrees, this vinegar looks elegant drizzled over your appetizer. It takes only seconds to do, but makes your appetizers look professional and appealing. If you find the flavor too strong, reduce the vinegar by slowly simmering it on the stove. Make sure to stir constantly. As the vinegar boils away, the flavor will become sweeter. Reduce to taste, then drizzle it on the appetizer while still warm. The result will harden on your appetizer and offer a sweet, almost crunchy note.

A tiny hint of lime can bring out the flavors as well. Make sure not to go overboard on this, or it will overwhelm the subtle mozzarella.

Bruschetta is an excellent companion to these flavors. It offers a satisfying crunch and gives your guests a far less messy way to enjoy their appetizers. If you do use bruschetta, you will most likely need to dice the tomato, however, so it may be more labor intensive. A larger crostini will serve the same purpose but can hold a full tomato slice, making for a nice compromise.

Peach slices are an often overlooked but tasty addition to these flavors as well. Make sure to drain them well. Otherwise the mozzarella and tomato will absorb the peach juices, making everything taste distinctly like peach.

If you are going for a fresh antipasto salad or a colorful skewer, additions like olives or cured meats, such as prosciutto and salami, may be just the thing.

Presentation for Your Tomato Mozzarella Appetizer

A good appetizer is all about the presentation. Displaying your appetizers just right will mean guests can't wait to give them a try.

The simplest choice is an antipasto salad. Simply mix your ingredients together and enjoy. Serve this on small plates to keep it stylish.

Skewers are another great option, especially if you are using cherry tomatoes. Simply connect a layer of each of your ingredients with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. This style has the added benefit of being easy to handle while walking and socializing.

Using a small, crisp bread like crostini or bruschetta will give your appetizer a tiny edible plate. Guests will appreciate the ease, although you may find some crumbs later, since these breads have a tendency to crumble.

Simply alternating slices of ingredients on a small, rectangular appetizer plate can be very stylish. Drizzle a little of that balsamic vinegar on top and you'll have a crowd favorite.

For the more ambitious cook, consider stuffing the ingredients into a cherry tomato. Simply halve the tomato, scoop out a portion of the flesh, and fill the inside with delicious mozzarella and basil. This process will take some time, but the results are beautiful and won't get a mess on guest's fingers.

If you're looking for something a little more hearty, you can even present your tomato and mozzarella on the back of a thin grilled chicken strip. While it might sound unusual, the grilled chicken enhances the flavors and will do a little more to tide your guests over until dinner time. Make sure to provide either toothpicks or napkins with these, however, since they can leave a little grease on the fingers.

However you choose to design your tomato mozzarella appetizer, be sure to make it your own. These classic flavors go together so well that your experimentation is bound to be a success.

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