I can be fickle about tomatoes. I love tomatoes, don’t get me wrong, but raw? No thanks. Cooked briefly? Sure, bring them on–go figure. Enjoying the nuances of really fresh tomatoes means keeping the cooking to a minimum, so this I tend to be wary of doing much in this area. But why not try something light to show off the sweet red jewels of the season? I caved and was delighted with these Phyllo Caprese Bites.
This dish was actually a clear-out-the-fridge dish, leftovers from a dish that I haven’t written up yet, lol (gee, I wonder if there will be any phyllo/tomato dishes coming online soon!). I wanted finger food, and when you have fresh tomatoes, its best to keep things simple so that their flavor can really stand on their own. Judy over at No Fear Entertaining whet my appetite for Caprese, and then Cathy over at Noble Pig went and turned it into finger food. To satisfy my craving for Caprese (and for finger food!), I thought I’d try to join in the fun. Since this is great for a starter, this also my entry in Meeta’s Monthly Mingle, hosted this month over at Fun and Food where the theme is appetizers.
The result was delicious. Flaky, buttery, crisp phyllo, wrapped around a fresh, sweet, juicy tomato highlighted by the herby, sweet flavors of basil and the creamy, simple taste of mozzarella. Simple, sweet, and fresh–just pop one in your mouth and enjoy
Unfortunately, this wasn’t perfectly executed. For instance, I used a muffin pan to help shape these–unfortunately, this resulted in me improperly estimating an appropriate size for each serving (they came out a bit larger than I would have liked). The juicy tomatoes also made for slightly soggy bottoms in the final result. Next time, I would make smaller packages, and perhaps either pre-bake the phyllo (or just the base) or pre-cook the tomatoes a bit so that there isn’t as much liquid sitting in the phyllo. Flavor-wise though, I wouldn’t change a thing.
- 4 sheets phyllo dough
- ~1 Tbsp butter
- campari tomatoes (or some other sweet, small variety)
- 6 basil leaves
- 1 oz mozzarella
- 3 kalamata olives
This recipe makes about 3 pieces, so scale up appropriately
Begin with the standard treatment for phyllo dough: melt and clarify the butter, carefully lay down a sheet of phyllo dough, and gently brush the surface of the dough with butter. Carefully lay another sheet of phyllo on top, brush it, and repeat until your phyllo stack is 4 layers tall.
Depending on the size of your phyllo dough and your intended cooking pan (I used a muffin pan), your cuts might be smaller than mine, but I cut my stack into 3 pieces (rectangles larger than the holes in my muffin pan).
Before you place your phyllo rectangles into the muffin pan, either grease the pan, or better yet, brush the underside with butter as well (so that all visible phyllo surfaces are buttered). Gently press the phyllo into the muffin pan, taking care not to poke any holes through it.
With the phyllo pressed in, on to the filling. Thinly slice the tomatoes, chiffonade (thin slices) the basil, and crumble off chunks of the mozzarella. Then, layer in some tomato slices, basil, mozzarella, and a dash of salt and pepper. Figure about one small tomato and 1-2 leaves of basil per piece.
With the filling in place, you can now seal the phyllo packages up. I didn’t do anything too fancy, simply folding up top and folding/crimping it all together. Top each piece with a pitted olive because it looks nice and olives are awesome.
Transfer this to a 400°F oven for 20 minutes so that the outside can crisp up and turn golden while the flavors inside will meld together.
Once time is up, allow for a few minutes of cooling time and then carefully remove each from the pan so that they can cool down before you serve. Enjoy!