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Mini Caprese Bites with a Pesto Dipping Sauce

IMG_2187We have had an exciting week. Stefanie’s cilantro garlic chicken wings were chosen as the recipe of the day at the Toronto Wing Festival. What a great feeling! Onto our mini caprese bites…

I had armloads of basil this week. My brother in law has the best garden and has been keeping me stocked with fresh herbs. I’ve made pesto twice this week, the first time in a food processor and the second time by hand. There is a big difference in taste but depending on time constraints either way works.  I’ve poached the garlic so it doesn’t overpower the delicate tomatoes and mozzarella. These bites are easy to put together and any leftover pesto can be used in sandwiches or on pasta.

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Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over low heat. Shake the pan to toast evenly.
IMG_2210After the garlic is poached I cut it in half and take out the darker piece in the middle. That’s the part that can make you feel sick.
IMG_2213Chop the pine nuts and garlic together until you have a fine dice.
IMG_2215As you chop the basil into the nut and garlic mixture use your knife to bring the bottom to the top so it all gets chopped well.
IMG_2216Add the freshly grated cheese and chop well to incorporate it into the mixture.
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Once everything is in small pieces it compacts as you turn it over. At this point put it in a bowl and add oil.
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Put a little bit of the reserved oil on the top to keep the color until you are ready to use it, then mix it in.
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Pesto
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1/8 cup of pine nuts
2 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon kosher salt and freshly grated pepper
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil (set aside a little to put on the top)

Lightly toast pine nuts in a dry pan over low heat.  Put them on a plate to cool. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Peel the skin off the garlic and poach them in the water for six minutes. Slice each clove in half and with a paring knife remove the darker center and discard.

Chop your pine nuts and garlic with a sharp knife until the mixture is in very small pieces. Add your basil and the kosher salt and chop well. As you chop use your knife to turn the mixture over. It should have a pasty consistency and stick together. Mix in the oil a little at a time. Save some of the oil for the top of the pesto if you are not going to use it immediately.

Mini Caprese Bites

1 pint of grape tomatoes
6 ounces of fresh mozzarella
small fresh basil leaves
decorative toothpicks or mini skewers

Skewer a small mozzarella ball or if you are using larger ones cut them into smaller pieces. Then add a small basil leaf a finish with a grape or cherry tomato. Put the pesto in a small container with a spoon for people to drizzle on the top.

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