“Little Soldiers” Tapenade & Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Mozzarella & a Lemon Basil Spritz

Serves: 4 plus 1 cocktail

Ingredients for Tapenade "Soldiers":
  • 2 pound kalamata olives, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 8 anchovy filets or 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • zest of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, packed
  • 5 - 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
Ingredients Blistered Cherry Tomato “Soldiers”:
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 - 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Ingredients for Building "Soldiers":
  • 1 loaf ciabatta (or your favorite crusty bread), sliced on a steep bias
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella or burrata
Ingredients for the Lemon Basil Spritz:
  • 5 large basil leaves
  • 1½ ounces Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • sparkling water or club soda


Procedure for Tapenade:

  1. Using a sharp knife, mince the olives, capers, and anchovy filets (if you are using anchovy paste, add it to the bowl after you put in your minced olives and capers) until they are so small that they are almost a paste. Transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Mince the garlic and add to the mixing bowl.
  3. Add the lemon zest and fresh squeezed juice to the mixing bowl.
  4. Roughly chop the parsley and thyme and add to the mixing bowl along with the dijon mustard. Stir to combine everything.
  5. While stirring, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Procedure for Blistered Cherry Tomatoes:
  1. Preheat a cast iron pan on your grill (or medium heat on your stove).
  2. Using your hand or your knife, gently smash the garlic cloves and then roughly chop them.
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes to your cast iron pan and immediately drizzle with enough olive oil to get them shiny, about 1 - 2 tbsps. Add the thyme sprigs. Shake the pan (or use a spoon to stir) to ensure the tomatoes are coated in the olive oil then let them sit for 2 minutes, until blistered.
  4. Toss in the roughly chopped garlic and shake the pan again. Let it sit for 2 minutes and then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Using a fork or back of a spoon, lightly smash the tomatoes.
Procedure for Building the “Little Soldiers”:
  1. Drizzle both sides of the bread slices with olive oil and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. On a grill or grill pan on medium high heat toast both sides of the bread.
  3. Spread 4 slices of grilled bread with goat cheese, top with the tapenade and a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Arrange torn pieces of fresh mozzarella or burrata on 4 slices of grilled bread. Top with the cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt (if desired).
Procedure for Cocktail:
  1. Put 4 basil leaves in a cocktail shaker and press them gently with a muddler or a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the Deep Eddy Lemon vodka and simple syrup.
  3. Fill with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled Collins glass.
  4. Top off with sparkling water or club soda.
  5. Garnish with the remaining basil leaf.

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