What is the best appetizer of summer made of? That’s easy to answer: choose 5 exciting ingredients, put them into skewers, and get ready for rave reviews about your cooking skills. Within a few minutes, you can create fireworks of delicious flavors and textures in your mouth. These Strawberry Caprese Skewers with Lemon Basil will undoubtedly get the attention they deserve when you offer them in your summer party or to surprise guests.
How to make these Strawberry Caprese Skewers with Lemon Basil
When you see the ingredient list, you might get a bit boggled. Strawberries with mozzarella? Rose pepper and lemon basil? Am I kidding you? Worry not, I made extensive tests, and this combination was the overwhelming winner. So, your taste buds are in good hands (not literally, though!)
All in all, this appetizer recipe shouts “Summer!” like no other. Fresh ingredients of the season, easy to make, with mind-blowing taste. What’s not to like?
The good thing is that you can make as many or as few skewers as you need to. The recipe is easy to adjust, from a romantic summer brunch for two to a party for 100 guests.
I recommend using small strawberries in this recipe. They are the same size as mini mozzarella balls, and the carb count is naturally lower than in larger strawberries. However, if large strawberries are the only ones you can find, you can halve or quarter them to match the size of the mini mozzarella balls. One tip still: as strawberries are notorious for their pesticide residues, choose organic ones to be on the safe side and avoid any chemical load.
Be sure to get real balsamic vinegar — no syrups or other fake stuff. Going real pays off both in taste and in a lower amount of carbs, unlike syrups terribly high in carbs and thus a no-no on a keto diet.
But, without further ado, let’s take a look at how to prepare this easy and tasty keto appetizer.
Take the first three ingredients: hulled strawberries (preferably organic if you can find), mini mozzarella balls, and lemon basil leaves. Make sure to have the same amount of each. Here, I have 16 strawberries, 16 mini mozzarella balls, and 16 lemon basil leaves.
In addition, you need skewers. These shortish (6-inch = 15 cm) bamboo skewers work wonderfully.
Start putting first a strawberry into a skewer.
Continue with a lemon basil leaf.
Finally, add a mini mozzarella ball.
Place the skewer onto a serving plate.
Make as many skewers as you need to.
Once you’ve got as many skewers as you need to, drizzle balsamic vinegar on top of the skewers.
And now the final step: sprinkle rose pepper (aka pink peppercorn) on top of each skewer. You can sprinkle some on the serving plate as well for a prettier presentation.
How I came up with this crazy and easy keto appetizer recipe
To be honest, I don’t remember the origins of this recipe and how I came up with the idea of combining strawberries with mozzarella. I just had written the recipe and the ingredients to my idea list. Most likely, I was thinking of summer recipes and how to use strawberries in various — and a bit unusual — ways.
In fact, the original recipe idea didn’t contain any fancy ingredients like rose pepper or lemon basil but the usual Caprese stuff like mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Well, the strawberries instead of tomato were the unusual part there.
I do have other Caprese-type recipes, like this Caprese Stuffed Chicken (which, by the way, is super delicious!) and this another appetizer recipe that uses the classic Caprese ingredients but in a bit different form, i.e., Hasselback style.
Even the original combination of mozzarella, tomato, and basil is tasty and colorful, why always restrict to that? I must have thought fruity, slightly sweet, and tangy strawberries would be an excellent replacement for tomato. Together with mild mozzarella and flavorful basil, the combination might work wonderfully.
In 2014, I made an eBook about healthy drinks (that you can still get from my own store as a .pdf or as Amazon Kindle), and I was testing numerous recipes for infused water. I also tested infused water with strawberries and basil, and it made a very tasty combo.
Now, during the hottest time of the summer and the peak season of fresh and flavorful Finnish strawberries, it was about time to put the idea about Strawberry Caprese Skewers into practice. I thought I’ll do a couple experiments as I had come up with some more ideas for my recipe.
Namely, from my infused water experiments, I also had found out that strawberries are a great match with rose pepper aka pink peppercorn! Yes, that combo is simply mouth-watering. At least I wanted to try out how rose pepper would work in my skewers instead of the usual black pepper.
When I went to the store to buy the ingredients, I saw lemon basil next to the regular basil. It smelled so fascinating and delicious that I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to grab one and try it in my recipe. It might work exceptionally well, I thought.
At home (or actually at my parents’ home where I was visiting), I made a plate with different combinations, including strawberries, mozzarella, regular basil, lemon basil, black pepper, rose pepper, balsamic vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil.
After tasting the experiments and rating them, I was ready to pick the winner. Here are my experiments, rated with the familiar scale from * = inedible to ***** = incredible:
- olive oil + lemon basil + balsamic vinegar ****
- olive oil + regular basil + balsamic vinegar ***1/2
- olive oil + lemon basil + rose pepper ***
- olive oil + regular basil + rose pepper ***+
- olive oil + lemon basil + black pepper **
- olive oil + regular basil + black pepper **1/2
- lemon basil + balsamic vinegar + rose pepper ****1/2
- regular basil + balsamic vinegar + rose pepper ****
From these results, we can see that black pepper didn’t work that well with other ingredients. Basically, black pepper just lent heat but no real flavor. Rose pepper (or pink peppercorn), on the other hand, is very flavorful but relatively mild. The last two experiments I did after the first six. I had extremely good-quality Greek extra-virgin olive oil (thanks, Stavros!), and it was admittedly providing pleasant richness. However, I wanted to maximize the flavors and decided to try out how the recipe turns out if I dropped the olive oil and switched it to balsamic vinegar.
The last two experiments were indeed the best. Balsamic vinegar is a must as it provides a mouth-watering tang that complements fruity strawberries and almost flavorless mozzarella remarkably well. Lemon basil is simply exciting and gives a fresh, lemony taste — though regular basil also works okay. Rose pepper lent delicious crunch, gentle kick, and even more zing. Together, all these ingredients make a perfect and tasty appetizer or snack!
Are you ready to create fireworks of delicious flavors and textures in your mouth — with only 5 ingredients? Here is the recipe for you to enjoy:
- 16 hulled small strawberries (preferably organic)
- 16 lemon basil leaves
- 16 mini mozzarella balls
- balsamic vinegar
- rose pepper (aka pink peppercorn)
- In addition: 16 skewers or cocktail picks (preferably 4-6 inches = 10-15 cm)
- Put first a strawberry into a skewer, then a lemon basil leaf, and finally a mini mozzarella ball..
- Place the skewer onto a serving plate.
- Continue with the rest of the skewers.
- Drizzle a little bit of balsamic vinegar on top of each skewer.
- FInally, sprinkle rose pepper (pink peppercorn) on top of each skewer.
- Serve immediately.
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Perfectware - BambooKnot4-300ct Bamboo Knot 4-300ct 4" Bamboo Knot Picks (Pack of 300)
Perfect Stix Paddle Pick 6-200 6" Bamboo Paddle Pick Skewers (Pack of 200)
Villa Manodori Balsamic Vinegar, 1 Bottle (8.5 Fl Oz)
Giuseppe Giusti Gran Deposito Aceto Balsamico Di Modena Aged Artisan Italian Balsamic Wine Vinegar, 8.45 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)
FreshJax Premium Organic Spices, Herbs, Seasonings, and Salts (Certified Organic Pink Peppercorn - Large Bottle)
|Nutrition information||Per serving (1 skewer)|
|Net carbs||1.3 g|
Tips for variations
If you cannot find lemon basil, you can certainly use regular basil. Also, other basil varieties are worth experimenting with, like Thai basil.
Mini mozzarella balls are ideal for this recipe. However, you can cut pieces from a bigger mozzarella ball if you don’t find mini mozzarella balls.
In addition to mozzarella, other mild cheeses work well, too. Try young brie, camembert, or harder cheese varieties. You can certainly experiment with stronger cheese varieties as well, but strong cheese might not be the best match with the other flavorful ingredients in this recipe and just create a chaotic experience for your taste buds rather than thoroughly considered balanced fireworks of flavors.
If you are not a fan of rose pepper, you can use green pepper or white pepper — or leave out the pepper altogether. These skewers taste marvelous also without pepper, as you can see from my experiments and their rating.
Now, when thinking of it, other berries might work perfectly in this recipe. I bet raspberries or blackberries are a great match with the other ingredients and a wonderful way to give more variation. You can actually make part of the skewers with strawberries and part with raspberries. Pretty and tasty!
This week, I have been on the go. Currently, I’m in beautiful Turku.
Right after posting this blog post, I will make a short round along the Turku archipelago, most likely taking some photos and enjoying the beautiful scenery.