Baby Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Skewers with Basil Pesto

Baby Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Skewers with Basil Pesto
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About This Recipe

As a Napa Valley local and home chef, I have always been inspired by the region's abundance of fresh produce, remarkable wines, and rich culinary history. One dish that perfectly encapsulates the flavors of wine country is Baby Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Skewers with Basil Pesto. The vibrant colors and delightful flavors of this dish make it a favorite at summer gatherings and wine tastings alike.

To create this recipe, I took advantage of the incredible heirloom tomatoes available at local farmer's markets. These colorful gems are bursting with flavor and pair beautifully with creamy fresh mozzarella. A drizzle of homemade basil pesto, made with fragrant basil from my garden, ties the skewers together, creating an irresistible appetizer that celebrates the essence of Napa Valley.

Serving these skewers with a crisp and refreshing salad of arugula, thinly sliced red onions, and toasted pine nuts makes for a delightful side dish. For dessert, consider a light and airy lemon olive oil cake topped with a dollop of whipped mascarpone and fresh berries.

When it comes to sourcing ingredients, look for local farmer's markets, like the Napa Farmer's Market or the St. Helena Farmer's Market. These markets offer a wealth of farm-to-table ingredients that will elevate your dish to the next level. Additionally, many artisanal cheese shops in the area carry fresh mozzarella crafted by local cheesemakers.

Pairing your skewers with a Napa Valley wine is essential to fully enjoy the experience. A crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc or a light and fruity Rosé will complement the flavors of the tomatoes, mozzarella, and pesto beautifully. Some of my favorite wineries for these varietals include Cakebread Cellars, Duckhorn Vineyards, and Round Pond Estate.

Napa Valley is a treasure trove of culinary delights and hidden gems. From historic wineries and breathtaking vineyard views to the lush and diverse landscape, it's a haven for wine lovers and food enthusiasts. I encourage you to explore this remarkable region, visit our local markets and wineries, and continue your culinary journey with more Napa-inspired dishes.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

Baby heirloom tomatoes are the crown jewels of many summer gardens and local farmers' markets, especially in Napa Valley. These naturally tiny tomatoes come in an array of vibrant colors from reds to purples to yellows and even greens. Not only do they brighten up dishes aesthetically, but their unique flavors, ranging from incredibly sweet to tangy and earthy, set them apart from regular cherry tomatoes. Given their heirloom status, they are grown from ancient seeds and are free from modern hybridization, retaining their original, robust flavors. This makes them a favorite ingredient for culinary enthusiasts who seek authentic, garden-fresh taste in their dishes.

How to Perfect Your Basil Pesto

Making basil pesto might seem straightforward, but there are a few tricks to elevate its flavor:

  1. Choose Fresh Basil: The fresher the basil, the more vibrant the pesto. Always opt for fresh over dried basil.
  2. Toasted Pine Nuts: Toasting pine nuts before adding them to the processor brings out a deeper nutty flavor.
  3. Pulse, Don't Blend: For the best texture, pulse the ingredients until coarsely chopped rather than blending them into a puree. This ensures a delightful chunky texture to your pesto.
  4. Season at Every Step: Remember to taste and season your pesto at every step, ensuring the flavors are perfectly balanced.

FAQs

  1. Can I use regular cherry tomatoes instead of baby heirloom tomatoes? Yes, you can substitute cherry tomatoes, but baby heirloom varieties offer a unique flavor and color profile that enhances the dish's aesthetic and taste.
  2. How can I store leftover basil pesto? Store any leftover pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays and transfer the cubes to a freezer bag for longer storage.
  3. I'm lactose-intolerant. Can I still enjoy this dish? Absolutely! Substitute fresh mozzarella with lactose-free cheese or a plant-based alternative. The taste might slightly differ, but you'll still enjoy the essence of the dish.
  4. What other nuts can I use in place of pine nuts for the pesto? If pine nuts aren't available, you can substitute them with walnuts or almonds. However, the flavor profile will slightly change, but it will still be delicious.
  5. Can these skewers be made ahead of time? Yes, you can assemble the skewers ahead of time but drizzle the basil pesto just before serving to ensure the freshness and prevent the skewers from becoming soggy.

Tips for Success

  1. Use Quality Olive Oil: When it comes to pesto, the quality of olive oil can make a huge difference. Opt for a good quality extra virgin olive oil for a rich and robust flavor.
  2. Soak Skewers: If you're using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before assembling. This prevents them from splintering.
  3. Presentation is Key: Given the vibrant colors of the ingredients, focus on presentation. Use a white or neutral-colored platter to make the colors pop, and always drizzle the pesto for an added gourmet touch.

Recipe Overview

Recipe:
Baby Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Skewers with Basil Pesto
Author:
Lily Anderson
Season:
Summer
Yield:
6 servings
Calories Per Serving:
59
Prep Time:
PT20M
Cook Time:
PT15M
Total Time:
PT20M

Ingredients List

Ingredients:

  • 24 baby heirloom tomatoes in assorted colors
  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 24 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 wooden skewers

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Rinse and dry the baby heirloom tomatoes. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, combine 1 cup basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Process until coarsely chopped.
  3. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the extra virgin olive oil until well combined and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Set the basil pesto aside.
  4. Assemble the skewers by threading one baby heirloom tomato, one fresh basil leaf, one cube of fresh mozzarella, and another basil leaf onto each wooden skewer. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients, making 12 skewers in total.
  5. Arrange the skewers on a serving platter and drizzle with the basil pesto. Serve immediately.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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