These skewers are super capr-easy. And, they’ll use up produce from gardens I know that some of you are growing. Ripe cherry tomatoes literally burst with flavor while roasting in the oven, tofu sizzles, and fresh basil, well…freshens up the whole flavor. All of this gets dunked into a nice cool bath of seasoned balsamic vinegar.
I love any take on the traditional caprese salad. One of my favorite versions that I’ve had is at a little place called the Saxapahaw General Store in Saxapahaw, North Carolina. My parents came to visit me so I took them to the locally-supplied restaurant which is located in a converted gas station. Cool, right? My mom and I decided to do a sandwich swap and ordered a roasted vegetable sandwich and a Mozzarella Caprese sandwich. Although it’s been over a year, I can’t get the taste of the Mozzarella Caprese out of my mind. A freshly baked baguette, meaty slices of ripe tomatoes, delicate fresh leaves of basil, and thick chunks of mozzarella, all coated with a home-made balsamic vinaigrette. Yum.
The other day I was hunkered down in my basement fort, armed with my Hemingway text in one hand and a pen in the other. And I was trying to concentrate. I really was. But all that caught my attention was a view of this out the window:
Once I saw the clouds, I started worrying that the downpour that would surely ensue would blow all of my little cherry tomatoes away. I’ve been working hard on taking care of those little guys – I mean, I get a gym membership’s worth of strength training lugging two watering cans out to the plants each day. I set down Hemingway and ran upstairs to go collect all of my little tomatoes and I saved them all before the sky opened up.
Fast forward a few hours through a soldier falling in love with a nurse, me writing a blog post for the Chamber of Commerce, and working on applications for grad school. Lunch rolled around and my collection of tomatoes sat waiting for me in a little bowl on the counter. And then, inspiration hit: a summery lunch that would use all of my precious tomatoes and some of the basil leaves that have been winding wildly towards the screen window they sit by.
To make my cap-reasy salad skewers, all you need are some tiny cherry tomatoes (aren’t they the cutest?), a few cubes of tofu, some fresh basil, and some good balsamic vinegar for dipping. Pop ’em in the oven, pop ’em in your mouth. Bada-bing, bada-boom. These mini-skewers are as cute as the ingredients that top them. They’d be perfect as hors d’ oeuvres at a party, a fresh summer lunch, or as an appetizer at a barbeque. Or as a refreshing snack in the midst of a Snacker Day Saturday!
Moral of the story: I’m really, really glad I rescued my cherry tomatoes from the storm! Other moral of the story: waiting is challenging. I used all my cherry tomatoes on this lunch so I’m now going to sit outside by my tomato plants and beg and plead them to ripen faster so I can make more of these delicious skewers. Okay, don’t worry, I won’t really go talk to my plants, but I sure am excited for the next batch of them to ripen up!
Capr-easy Salad Skewers
*Note: I’m not including amounts in this recipe. I’ll let you know how to make the skewers, but feel free to make as many or as little as your heart desires (or however many your garden dictates)
Fresh basil leaves
Italian seasoning blend
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray a cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray. Place washed cherry tomatoes onto the sheet.
3. Cut tofu into small blocks and dry them by pressing on them with a paper towel to extract excess moisture. Next, toss them in a little bit of garlic powder.
4. Put the seasoned tofu blocks onto the cookie sheet alongside the cherry tomatoes. Put the sheet in the oven. Bake for 10-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have burst and the tofu is slightly firm on the outside.
5. Grab some toothpicks. Slide a tomato, a piece of tofu, and a fresh basil leaf onto each.
6. In a small bowl, mix balsamic vinegar with Italian seasoning. Add a drizzle of olive oil if you’d like.
7. Serve up a savory summertime snack that everyone will feel good about eating!
Now, for the reading portion of today’s snacker day: I suggest you read a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. No, it’s not a ‘snack-sized’ read like most of the literature I try recommending on Saturdays, but this one is a great book to sit down and enjoy during summer. Barbara Kingsolver and her family grow their own food for a year and chronicle their experiences. If you’ve got a garden of your own, are looking to start one, or are simply interested in eating local, natural, real food, this is a book you’ll probably love. I really enjoyed it when I read it a couple years ago! It came to mind today while I was picking my food for lunch – it felt good that most of my meal came from the vine and landed on my plate mere minutes later. Hope you have a great Snacker Day Saturday!