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Caprese Skewers with Creamy Pesto Dip

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Are you planning to watch the Grammy Awards this weekend? If you’re like me, I always like something to nibble on when I’m watching an award show or special event. There’s just something so satisfying about eating different, small plates of foods that I love, too. Dave and I often have tapas for dinner instead of a full meal.

These portable caprese skewers couldn’t be easier, or faster, to make. You can make as many or as few of these skewers as you’d like, and serve them with the creamy pesto dip that can be made in advance. I’ve made these for parties in the past, as well as “just because”.

I like to assemble them on these toothpicks, which are made of bamboo and look like little forks, but you can use a different style. (The wooden toothpicks with the frilly, colored cellophane tops that you’ve probably seen used for sandwiches are easy to find in most grocery stores.)

If you’re having a small get-together, or want to skip placing a take-out order but also need something more substantial to have as a dinner, here are other ideas that would go well with these caprese skewers for a fuller spread of Mediterranean-style tapas:

  • Marcona almonds sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper—just think of these as regular almonds’ much tastier cousin. I’ve purchased these in cheese shops as well as higher-end grocery stores or specialty foods stores in the past.

    Marcona almonds
  • Mixed olives—one of my favorite snacks from the grocery store that doesn’t need to be prepared. There’s a Greek or Sicilian mix I generally go for that has kalamata (briney, black or purple olives that are used in Greek salads) and picholine (little dense, sweet green olives) both included. To go the extra mile (or maybe just a half mile since this is easy), warm the olives up in a little olive oil in a skillet with some fresh rosemary and a slice of fresh orange or lemon added in.
  • Crudités—they also go well with the pesto dip. Carrot sticks, zucchini slices, and baby bell peppers (served whole or cut in half and seeded) are a few of my perennial favorites.
  • Sun Dried Tomato and Cheese Strudels—I like to serve a few cold tapas and a few hot ones, just to keep things interesting. These studels come together quick with store-bought puff pastry and a few other ingredients.
  • Mini cannoli or macarons—for a little something sweet to have along with a cordial, tea or espresso.
Caprese Skewers with Creamy Pesto Dip
Ingredients
  • 1 cup good quality basil pesto from a jar or homemade
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups mozzarella balls ("bocconcini") from the olive bar at most grocery stores, or use a large, 16 oz ball of fresh mozzarella
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Fresh basil leaves washed and dried
Instructions
  1. To make the dip: combine pesto, sour cream, and mayonnaise in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

  2. To make caprese skewers: if using a large fresh mozzarella ball instead of the bocconcini, cut the mozzarella into large cubes, about 1/2 inch in size. On a small bamboo fork skewer or toothpick, add a cherry tomato, piece of fresh torn basil, a bocconcini or piece of mozzarella, another piece of fresh torn basil, and a final cherry tomato. Repeat until you have about a dozen skewers or run out of ingredients. Arrange with dip on a platter and serve.