Tapenade Stuffed Mozzarella Cheese Appetizers
Bite-sized food is one of the best ways to create a romantic atmosphere for your Valentine dinner. That way you can feed each other while talking and kissing in between! To that end, I created cheese appetizers using small mozzarella balls that I emptied and stuffed with homemade tapenade. The preparation is quite simple if you prep everything in advance.
I made the tapenade using kalamata olives. I love the way the blackish deep-purple color contrasts so well with the white mozzarella; they're also the best choice because of their rich and fruity flavor. I served the mozzarella appetizers on herb-Parmesan crackers, so they're easy to pick up and eat in one single bite.
Yields: 24 appetizers24 fresh mini mozzarella balls
3/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove pickled garlic (or raw garlic), finely minced
½ cup tapenade, as needed
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 anchovy filets (optional), chopped
1 tablespoon sweet basil leaves, blanched and coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups mixed lettuce, for garnish
12 herb-Parmesan cheese crackers
Prepping the mozzarella cheese: Create little "hats" by cutting the tops off the mozzarella balls. Using a melon baller, create a cavity by hollowing out the center. Set aside.
Making tapenade filling: In a mini-food processor (or blender), combine the chopped olives, anchovies (if used), 2 teaspoons honey, capers, basil, garlic and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Pulse until smooth. Drizzle with 2 tablespoon olive oil. Pulse until the oil is well incorporated. Transfer to a bowl. Add 4 tablespoons basil leaves. Season with black pepper. Stir well using a spatula. Check seasoning; depending on the saltiness of the anchovies, add more salt if necessary (I made 2 batches so there would be a vegetarian version).
Making the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the rest of the lemon juice, honey, olive oil and Dijon mustard. Stir well.
I used the quenelle method to fill the mozzarella balls. Using 2 teaspoons, gather one portion of the tapenade filling in one spoon. Scrape the loose mixture from the sides using the other spoon. Repeat between the 2 spoons until the mound is tightly packed. Slide the mound into the mozzarella cavity. Repeat until all the mozzarella bites are filled.
Place 2 mozzarella balls per cracker. Cover with the little "hats". Place the crackers on a bed of lettuce.
Drizzle the appetizers with the lemon dressing.
For a vegetarian version, omit the chopped anchovies.
You can find pickled garlic in most Asian markets.
You could also serve these with homemade herb-cheese crackers.Published By: on February 8, 2012.