An easy “dress up” for your typical Caprese Salad

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There are days where I JUST need to get creative. I like tried and true flavors but I get the urge to change things up a bit. This is how this salad came to be. It’s summer, and there’s nothing…I mean NOTHING better than a vine ripened tomato. And, tell me if I’m wrong, but the ideal cherry tomato has ALL the flavor of the big ones, just in a small condensed version.

So, when I wanted to take advantage of all that tomato goodness, but serve it in a slightly unexpected way, that’s when I turned to a Frico cup. What’s a Frico, you ask? Well, simply stated, a “frico” is a disk of cheese baked until it’s crisp. Think of a cracker made strictly of cheese (oooh…keto lovers, are you with me?) that take on a really beautiful lacy texture when they bake. There many options for making and serving Frico, but in this case I decided to make bigger ones and make them into a cup shape to use as a container.

While frico are most often made with Parmesan cheese, there are other options. For me, I had a guest (my eldest daughter, actually) who is intolerant of cow milk dairy so I’m always looking for alternative cheeses. And, Pecorino Romano was just the ticket.

So, made the frico cups with the Romano, and then filled them with a “caprese” using kalamata olives and feta cheese instead of the usual mozzarella. Again, daughter can eat feta, so it was perfect! A little sherry vinegar and some really great olive oil, along with that other summer hero, basil, and we were done! All those incredible late-summer flavors, served in a fancy (but now you’ll see how easy they are to make) little cheese basket, and bingo! Elegant but easy and fancy enough to serve and impress. What could be better for your carefree entertaining?

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Tomato Caprese Salad in Frico Baskets

A surprisingly easy, but elegant way to serve your next Caprese Salad
Course: Appetizer
Keyword: caprese salad, cherry tomatoes, fancy salad presentation, mozzarella, potluck salads, salads with cheese, side dish salads, summer salads, tomato salad
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Corinne Gregory Sharpe

Equipment

  • muffin tins

Ingredients

Cheese Frico Baskets

  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan, shredded (per frico up)
  • freshly cracked black pepper, optional

Tomato Caprese Salad

  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, of varied colors, as desired
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 10-12 leaves fresh basil, chiffonaded (or to taste)
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • additional basil, for garnish

Instructions

For the Frico Cups

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Line a sheet tray with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Make piles of cheese, 2 inches apart, and spread out to a circle 1/3 larger than the base of your muffin tin. Bake until melted but just barely brown around the edges approx. 6 minutes. Allow to cool for a minute or two. Using a thin metal spatula, quickly transfer to muffin pan, pressing carefully into the centers and bottoms to form the cup. Cool before filling.

For the Tomato Caprese Salad

  • Cut cherry tomatoes in halves or smaller, as needed to fit the proportions of your Frico cups. Place in a bowl with olives, feta cheese, basil, sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Allow salad to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate for longer. Bring to room temperature, if refrigerated, before serving
  • To serve, use a slotted spoon to scoop tomato salad into individual caprese cups. Garnish with a little extra olive oil and basil, as desired. Serve immediately.

Notes

NOTE: While the recipe specifies Parmesan, you can actually substitute other hard-grating cheeses as you want. For example, if you have someone in your household who is intolerant to cow-based dairy, you may want to substitute a Pecorino Romano or similar cheese for the Parmesan. Pecorino is typically made of sheep’s milk so may be tolerated by those affected by cow’s milk lactose. Manchego is another possibility as are some dry Jack cheeses. Again, play around and learn about the source of the dairy for the cheese if you want to make this recipe but have to accommodate sensitivities.

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