Harissa Spiced Cherry Bocconcini Bites

Appetizers

This tapas-style appetizer gets a trendy flavour lift with the addition of Harissa, an aromatic spice blend from North Africa.

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    Ingredients

    1 tbsp15 mLCumin, caraway and coridander seed
    2-4 2-4 Chilli Pepper Flakes
    2 2 Sun-dried Tomatoes, dry variety and not oil-packed
    2 tsp10 mLPaprika, garlic powder
    1 tsp5 mLSalt
    10 10 SALERNO - Cherry Bocconcini Cheese, drained and patted dry
    1 tbsp15 mLLemon juice
    1 tbsp15 mLOlive Oil
    10 - 20 10 - 20 Fresh Basil Leaves
    35 35 Apricots
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    Instructions

    1. Toast cumin, caraway and coriander seeds in a small dry skillet set over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 7 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
    2. Grind toasted seeds with hot peppers and dried tomatoes in a coffee grinder or mini chop. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in paprika, garlic powder and salt. Makes 1/2 cup (125 mL) dry rub. (Dry mixture can be reserved in an airtight container for up to 1 month.)
    3. Blend 2 tbsp (30 mL) spice blend with lemon juice and olive oil in a medium bowl to make a paste. Toss bocconcini balls with spice mixture. Marinate for at least 15 minutes (or refrigerate for up to 1 day).
    4. Open up one side of each apricot. Line with a small basil leaf and insert a marinated bocconcini ball. Arrange on a serving platter.

    Tips

    • Good quality apricots should be moist and tender and easy to open up.
    • For an alternate serving option, alternately skewer bocconcini with cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves for a 'spicy Caprese bite'.
    • For those who like more heat, add cayenne pepper to the spice blend or choose a hotter dried pepper.
    • For a shortcut, replace the homemade spice blend with a prepared Harissa spice mixture.
    • Blend leftover Harissa spice mixture with melted butter and a bit of lemon to baste chicken or fish before grilling or baking.
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