Bocconcini, which literally translates as “little bites or little mouthfuls” in Italian, are small heavenly balls of fresh mozzarella cheese. And when you further enhance their flavor by marinating them in a savory olive oil, well there is simply nothing finer. Plus of course, they are just cute as all get-out.
I like to feature fresh mozzarella in some form or another every time I serve an antipasto platter. Along with thinly sliced salami, olives, and all the other usual suspects, which BTW tend to be straight from a jar or deli case, I like to serve at least one item on the platter that I have in some way “messed” with. But frankly, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on just the appetizer for an Italian meal on which I have already invested a great deal of time. So marinated bocconcini is perfect no matter how you look at it. It’s terribly easy to prepare, should be made ahead of time, looks just darling on the platter, and tastes like a million dollars. What more could anyone ask from the corpse of milk? (Thank you James Joyce for that lovely description of cheese!)
So next time you want a simple appetizer or a new and exciting addition for your green salads, or as a taste treat right out of the refrigerator container (shh, don’t tell Mr. C.), give this recipe a try. You will not regret joining the rest of us who are totally addicted to these little darlings. (And yes, being addicted to bocconcini is universally accepted as an appropriate response to once having tasted fresh mozzarella. In fact, if you don’t become addicted, your friends and family may request an intervention on your behalf!)
- ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp. dried oregano (Mexican is best)
- 1 T. finely chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 8-oz. bocconcini, drained (I try to find the really tiny bocconcini)
Whisk together the olive oil, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small covered container. Add the bocconcini and stir gently until each ball has been totally introduced to the marinade. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before you plan to serve. Stir periodically to make sure each bocconcini gets its fair share of time in the olive oil bath!
Note: if there is any marinade left after the bocconcini have all disappeared, it makes a wonderful salad dressing.