Savoring the last few weeks of summer, I decided to bring the Mediterranean to Canada on a bamboo stick. This refreshing appetizer salad will be sure to impress your guests and have them waiting in anticipation for the main course.
Fresh cherry tomatoes, delightful cubes of feta cheese, red onion, Kalamata olives, slow roasted tomatoes, quartered artichoke hearts, pickled peperoncini peppers stuffed with goat cheese and fresh basil are dressed with an elegant vinaigrette. Certainly this creation proves that vegetarians can bring much flare to their kitchens.
If you want to keep things simple, you don’t have to include stuffed peppers with goat cheese, nor slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, but this gourmet sensation is worth a bit of extra effort. Feel free to omit some of the ingredients presented here and/or add your favorites and mix up the order of the presentation as desired.
24 cherry tomatoes
olive oil for brushing
6 pickled peperoncini (Italian) peppers
2 – 3 oz (50 – 75 g) soft goat cheese
3 oz (75 g) Feta cheese, cut into 6 cubes
1/2 small red onion, cut into small squares
12 pitted Kalamata olives
12 leaves from jarred marinated artichokes
12 fresh basil leaves
fresh oregano for garnish
dried red pepper flakes for garnish
2 teaspoons lemon olive oil (or 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil + 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice)
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar (or 1 teaspoon each balsamic and rice vinegar)
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh basil, finely choppped
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
You will also need:
6 12-inch skewers or bamboo sticks
Begin by roasting half of the tomatoes. Preheat an oven to 250° and brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Cut 12 cherry tomatoes in half and arrange on teh baking sheet. Sprinkle more olive oil over of the tomatoes and season with a light sprinkle of salt and fresh cracked black pepper as well as some dried herbs if desired. Bake for at least two hours, turning the tomatoes over occasionally, until they are slightly browned, shriveled and dry but still tender with a little juiciness left. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, gently seed the peppers and stuff with goat cheese. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette.
Begin assembling the skewers with a fresh cherry tomato. Follow with a cube of Feta, a piece of onion, olive, artichoke, slow-roasted tomato, onion, stuffed pepper, olive, slow-roasted tomato, artichoke, and another fresh cherry tomato before finishing with fresh basil leaves. Repeat for the remaining skewers.
Arrange on a serving plate and sprinkle the dressing over the skewers. Garnish with oregano and red pepper flakes and the remaining basil leaves to cleanse the palate.
Makes 6 appetizers