Tomatoes Filled with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

Tomatoes Filled with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil
This is an elegant version of the classic Caprese salad. Basil vinaigrette is served in a Chinese porcelain spoon alongside each tomato.
Makes 6 servings.

Dressing
1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, blanched*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad
6 medium round tomatoes with stems still attached
2 7-ounce balls fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
6 fresh basil leaves

1. To make the dressing bend all ingredients in blender or food processor until basil is very finely chopped and is thick; season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Cut 1/2 inch off stem-end of each tomato. Using melon baller, scoop out insides of tomatoes, leaving shells intact. Season the inside of the tomato with salt. Mix cubed mozzarella cheese, olive oil and chopped basil in medium bowl. Divide cheese mixture among tomato shells. Place some of the dressing in a porcelain spoon on each plate and serve with a cool crisp California sauvignon blanc.
NB: The tomatoes can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover tomatoes and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator ½ hour before serving.

*To blanch- 1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil prepare a bowl of ice and water large enough to hold the basil leaves when finished cooking.

2. When the water comes to a boil add a teaspoon of kosher salt and the basil. Blanch the basil leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds until they turn bright green.

3. Strain the leaves from the water and place basil leaves in ice water to stop the cooking. Leave for a couple of minutes in ice water then strain basil from water. Use your hands to press the basil against the strainer to press out all the excess water to get the leaves as dry as possible.

Adapted from Colin Cowie.
©Julie Logue-Riordan 2009

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Copyright © Julie Logue Riordan, Cooking with Julie