Two Five-Minute Appetizers

(Re-posted from my original blog on Blogger)

Caprese:

We celebrated our one year house-aversay yesterday evening – hard to believe that it’s been a year in our house! Anyway, we had some friends over to celebrate and made caprese with all fresh ingredients from the garden. This is the first five-minute appetizer because it literally took five minutes to make. Caprese has three basic ingredients – tomato, basil, and mozzarella cheese. We added a little bit of olive oil too. First, I sliced three tomatoes from the garden into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices. Thicker would be better, but I didn’t have enough tomatoes to make super thick slices.

Ripe tomatoes from the garden
Sliced tomatoes

Nate was my helper for this appetizer because I have never made caprese before. He lived in Venice while abroad for a semester so he has had experience making this dish! After slicing the tomatoes, we placed them in a single layer on a plate in order to have individual tomato slices as the base.

 

 

Basil plant
Basil leaves

We have three basil plants that have survived the brutal summer temperatures we have had recently. They are pretty resilient plants, which is nice because we love to eat basil in pasta dishes. I picked about ten large-sized leaves off of the plants, making sure not to pick too many off of one plant to ensure the plant’s survival.

All of the ingredients for caprese
Pouring the olive oil

 

With everything ready to go, Nate took the lead on preparing the dish. First, he lightly coated the tomato slices with a bit of olive oil. Next, we placed chunks of mozzarella cheese on top of each slice (the more, the better!). The last step was to place a basil leaf, or half of a basil leaf depending on the size. Voila! A five-minute appetizer. We received rave reviews with this dish; in large part due to the fresh basil leaves and fresh tomatoes.

Mozzarella cheese
Fresh caprese!
Ingredients for cucumber salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumber Salad:I love cucumbers, and I think it is quite unfortunate that Nate does not. This is the second harvest from the cucumber vine. The first cucumber I literally ate sliced, it was so delicious! This time I decided to make a cucumber salad. I found the recipe online and made a few tweaks as I created this second five-minute appetizer.The recipe calls for cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. I already mentioned that this cucumber came from the garden and so did the tomatoes (it’s amazing how many dishes you can make with tomatoes!). I also have a parsley plant that lives in the front garden along with other herbs. I picked a large handful for the salad. Everything else came from the store – you need half of the red onion, salt, pepper, olive oil (this actually was a gift from friends who traveled to Italy!), and red wine vinegar.

Best chopper ever!
Diced red onion

I first diced half of the red onion using an onion chopper that my Dad got for me for Christmas. It is the best chopper ever! You simply slice the onion into 1/4 in or 1/2 in slices and it will dice the onion into cubes! It is really the easiest way to chop food. We usually use the chopper for onion, but it is also great for squash, tomato (as long as it isn’t too soft; otherwise you end up with mush), and peppers. I wanted bigger chunks of tomatoes and cucumbers than what the recipe calls for so I ended up slicing the cucumber and the halving the slices for the salad. The tomatoes I cut into large chunks for the salad.

 

Herb scissors
Mixing the salad
Cucumber salad

Another great little tool for this salad are herb scissors. I use these puppies all the time to chop up my herbs! It’s super easy to use and there is a cover with tongs to clean the insides of the blades in order to get the remaining herb pieces off. I cut a large handful of parsley into the salad (chopped onion, cucumber, and tomato). I mixed this well then added a couple splashes of red wine vinegar and olive oil. After mixing well the cucumber salad is finished! I covered and let the salad marinate in the refrigerator for a couple hours before dinner, but you can eat the salad right away; making it a great five-minute appetizer dish!

Original recipe for Cucumber Salad: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/cucumber-and-tomato-salad-recipe.html

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