I love summer. And I love hospitality. For me, they go together. Summer is an easy time to invite friends over to share a meal on our balcony. I don’t always have an appetizer before a meal…but making up these simple nibblies before our guests come over ensures that there’s something to nibble on (hence the use of the word “nibblies”) while we’re fixing dinner.

In a recent blog, I showed how to rehydrate sun-dried tomatoes. Whether you rehydrate your own, or purchase some, you’re going to need sun-dried tomatoes for these simple, stuffed tomatoes.

After making these, I looked over at my basil plant growing on the balcony and got another inspiration. I mean, look at those basil leaves!

The plants themselves aren’t very large, but the bottom leaves are so large that I could just envision rolling them up with some sun-dried tomato dip inside.

I creamed together some cream cheese and diced sun-dried tomatoes (drained from the oil, of course), then thinned the mixture with a little mayonnaise. You could use a little sour cream or milk if you prefer. I spoon a little of the mixture onto each rinsed basil leaf…and rolled them up.

   

I’m calling them Basil Bites. The basil leaves give them a wonderful, freshness…the sun-dried tomatoes give them a great depth of flavor. What does the cream cheese give…a lovely creaminess.

For the Cherry Tomato Bites (pictured at the beginning), I put the creamy mixture into one of those fancy-shmancy cake decorators to fill the center of the tomato. You don’t have to get that fancy…I was just experimenting to make sure the sun-dried tomato pieces would come through the tip. I always like to have options–making these fancier if I need a classier appetizer, or easier (see below) if I’m running out of time.

When I made these Tomato Pesto Bites, I first creamed together some cream cheese and a little leftover Basil Pesto. Then, I put the mixture into a small plastic bag and just snipped off the corner so I could squeeze it out of the bag into the center of the tomato.

I hope these inspire you…as my basil leaves inspired me. Try these variations of my Sun-Dried Tomato Dip (O Taste & See Some More!, p. 17), or check out your own fridge, garden or balcony to see what simple bites you can prepare. Invite someone over, pull up a chair under the patio umbrella and enjoy!

Ciao!

Debbie

 Here’s the recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Dip with a number of variations:

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

Yield: About 1 cup

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 oz./200 g) pkg. cream cheese
  • 1/2 C. (100 g)) sour cream
  • 1/2 C. (125 ml) mayonnaise
  • 10 dashes Tabasco sauce or Red Hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (some sun-dried tomatoes are very salty; so add according to taste)
  • 1/4 C. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (approximately 8 tomatoes)

Instructions

  1. Gently cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, Tabasco or Red Hot and salt. Add the finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes Serve at room temperature.
http://ciaofromdebbie.com/blog/step-by-step-cooking/summer-appetizers-step-by-step/

Variations

1. Basil Bites: use either the above dip recipe, or cream together 4 oz./100 g of cream cheese with about 6 finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Add a little mayonnaise or sour cream to soften the mixture. Place a small amount of the mixture on a large basil leaf and roll it up.

2. Cherry Tomato Bites: use either the above dip recipe, or cream together 4 oz./100 g of cream cheese with about 6 finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Add a little mayonnaise or sour cream to soften the mixture. Place mixture in a small plastic bag and press it into a corner; snip off the corner of the bag and squeeze the dip into cherry tomatoes cut into quarters, being careful to not cut all the way through the tomato.

3. For a quick and easy variation, spread softened cream cheese on crackers and top with several slivers of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained.

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