Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Grilled Caprese Kabobs -- the new taste of summer

Ah, Caprese salads I have loved! There was the one in the little restaurant in Giverny, not far from Monet’s house, where the fragrance and flavor of the oil nearly made me faint. And a few days later in Paris, when we went to have lunch while waiting for the registry office at Cémetière Montparnasse to open for the afternoon, so we could get directions to the grave of one of Mr. Right’s medical heroes, and had the most perfect tomatoes in the entire world, sitting in a sidewalk café in a busy place, one of those uniquely Parisian intersections where half a dozen streets come together and everything from fifty-year-old Citroens to brand-new Austin Martins zip by in a blur.

And nearly every combination of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil eaten on my back deck.

It’s a kind of magical medley that screams summer. No wonder DEATH AL DENTE, the first book in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, opens with Erin, the manager of the Merc, and her mother, Fresca, swooning over Genovese basil so fresh it’s practically still growing.

But these grilled kabobs may be the best version yet.

My husband says he plans to eat nothing else all summer. Well, maybe also ice cream with Chocolate Cabernet Sauce. (That recipe is in BUTTER OFF DEAD, and maybe in the archives here....)

We recommend two kabobs per person, as an appetizer. Both cherry and grape tomatoes work great, and the more color variety, the better! We used herbed mozzarella balls packed in oil from Costco, but plain cheese packed in water works, too. On a lark, we used a blackberry Balsamic vinegar we'd been given, and thought we were in heaven.

Grilled Caprese Kabobs

For each kabob:

3 small tomatoes
2 fresh mozzarella balls, herbed or plain
3 fresh basil leaves
olive oil, if you’re using plain cheese
salt and pepper
Balsamic vinegar
a metal or bamboo skewer (if you're using bamboo, soak them first)

Heat your grill. Use a perforated grill sheet or rack, if you have one; otherwise, grill directly over the heat.

Thread the skewers, starting with a tomato, a basil leaf, a cheese ball, another basil leaf, and so on, until you’ve threaded three tomatoes and two cheese balls, with a leaf between each. If your basil leaves are large, fold in half. If you’re using water-packed cheese, brush with olive oil. (The sharp-eyed among you may notice that these have only two tomatoes. First draft. Three tomatoes are better.)

Lay on the grill or grill sheet and close the grill lid. Grill 2-3 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft, even a little charred, and the cheese begins to melt. Don’t let your cheese fall off! Remove from grill and place skewers on serving plate. Season with salt and pepper if you’d like and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Oops -- looks like I forgot to take a picture after I drizzled on the Balsamic. In too much of a hurry to eat them! I promise, you will be, too!

Coming in July 2015: BUTTER OFF DEAD, third in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries! And there's still time---till midnight, Tuesday, June 2---to win an advance copy in the "Collecting Can be Murder" contest on Leslie's blog!

From the cover:  As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling  when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local mover and shaker …

In an attempt to woo tourists to Jewel Bay and cheer up the townies, Erin Murphy, manager of the specialty local foods market known as the Merc, is organizing the First Annual Food Lovers’ Film Festival, popping with classic foodie flicks and local twists on favorite movie treats. But when her partner in planning, painter Christine Vandeberg, is found dead only days before the curtain rises, Erin suspects someone is attempting to stop the films from rolling.

To make matters worse, Nick—Erin’s brother and Christine’s beau—has top billing on the suspect list. Convinced her brother is innocent and determined that the show must go on, Erin must find who’s really to blame before Nick gets arrested or the festival gets shut down. And as the anniversary of Erin’s father’s death in a still-unsolved hit-and-run approaches, her own beau isn’t so keen on her leading role.

But the closer Erin gets to shining a spotlight on the killer, the more likely it becomes that she’ll be the next person cut from the program…

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


  1. Deliciousness abound! Now I need to go shopping! Thanks for waking up my taste buds!

  2. Sounds wonderful Leslie, I love Caprese salad too!

    1. It may be one of the salads the angels serve God, don't you think?

  3. Triple yum! Thanks, Leslie. As soon as it stops raining, we'll be at the grill.



    1. Ha! My husband was planning to use his brother's visit over the weekend as an opportunity to build a rolling shed cover for grilling -- but it was raining too hard!

  4. We've been following the rain but now we have gotten to the ocean so it will be passing us by. The recipe sounds good but the book sounds better!

    1. Thanks, Elaine! Enjoy the beach -- these kabobs would probably taste even better with an ocean view!

  5. I have to make this when I have company this summer. What a nice fresh appetizer. I'm a big fan of fruit flavored balsamic vinegar, too!

    1. They're great company treats -- tasty, colorful, and EASY!

  6. We are at Bar harbor, Maine. It has been a very lovely, drizzly day in the 40's. And I really mean lovely. I have never been to Maine before and I always wanted to come (Thanks to one of my favorite authors, Elisabeth Ogilvie.) so we are here for a few days. We walked around town today and walked on the sandbar out to Bar Island. Ate lobster and clam chowda. Tomorrow I think we will ride on a sight-seeing boat. I am loving it here!

    1. This was supposed to be a reply to Leslie's reply on my first post. Sorry it got misplaced and everyone is now confused why I was writing about this.

    2. Elaine, that sounds marvelous! Have you read Barbara Ross's Maine Clambake Mysteries? You simply must -- they're just what you're describing! Eat a lobster roll for me, please!