Now I don’t know about you, but when I think of basil I immediately crave caprese. If you are not familiar with caprese – fear not! I am about to make your day.
Caprese is best in the summer when you can pick those sun warmed, sweet tomatoes off the vine. I really don’t think there is anything better than a freshly picked heirloom tomato that has ripened to perfection on the vine. Now, don’t mind me if I brag a bit here… In southern California we have summer weather for at least 9 or 10 months of the year. So… right now in November, our tomatoes are still pretty amazing.
That was my side note on tomatoes. Back to the caprese. Take those lovely, previously discussed tomatoes, big spicy basil leaves, that amazingly soft mozzarella cheese that floats around in the container of water, and a touch of balsamic vinegar – that’s caprese. It can be chopped and tossed together in a salad, eaten all sliced together or even made into these adorable mini pizzas. I added some extra stuff like prosciutto and pesto to these pizzas, just ultimately making my caprese even better – if I do say so myself.
Speaking of pesto, I should do a post on that one of these days. It’s super easy and you don’t have to use basil, you can use almost any leafy green like spinach, kale or even dandelion greens. Then add a nut or seed – pine nuts are traditional, but I’ve also used walnuts and pepitas. So toss all that in a food processor with parmesean cheese, salt and olive oil. Blend and viola! Pesto! The one on my pizzas here, I made a few months ago and froze in small jars. It was made with basil and pepitas.
Now before you spread that pesto on, make sure to toast the muffins, just until they feel like they are starting to toast. If you don’t the pesto has a way of soaking in then you get a soggy crust. Personally, not my favorite. Then later when you are baking the whole thing you just have to wait for the cheesy goodness to melt instead of waiting for a crispy crust. Happiness all around!
- 4 english muffins, split in half
- 1 large heirloom tomato sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- ½ cup prepared basil pesto
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 8 whole fresh basil leaves
- 1.5 ounces prosciutto, cut or torn into bite sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar glaze
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the eight muffin slices on a baking sheet and toast until warm and beginning to turn lightly brown, about five minutes. Remove from oven.
- On each muffin dividing evenly, spread a spoonful of pesto, place a tomato slice, and then a small handful of cheese, prosciutto pieces and a basil leaf. Bake for another 12-15 minutes or until cheese has melted and is bubbly. Drizzle balsamic glaze over all pizzas and serve.