- 3 zucchini, preferably straight and thin (1- to 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
- 2 tablespoons fruity olive oil
- 1/2 pound ripe heirloom or vine tomatoes, seeded, 1/2-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup arugula, washed and chiffonade in thin julienne
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese or soft goat cheese
- 1/4 cup olive tapenade
- 1 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade in thin julienne
- salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- Garnish (optional): 6 red and 6 yellow grape or teardrop tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Wash zucchini and cut into 1 1/2-inch rounds. With a small melon baller, scoop out the center pulp of each round, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the inner sides and bottom of the squash rounds.
- Place zucchini hollowed side down on a cookie sheet lightly brushed with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 7 to 10 minutes in 350F oven until lightly softened. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the tomatoes. Cook until heated throughout.
- Add balsamic vinegar. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes until liquid has reduced but the tomatoes should still hold their shape. Remove from heat.
- Allow to cool, then stir in the arugula. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn cooled zucchini cups face up. Place 1 teaspoon of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the cup.
- Spoon 1/2 teaspoon of ricotta atop the tomatoes.
- Top the ricotta mixture with 1/4 teaspoon of tapenade.
Note: You can complete the hors d'oeuvres to step 3 up to 3 hours in advance and refrigerate.
- Before serving, allow cups to come up to room temperate (or warm lightly in a low oven 2 to 3 minutes). Garnish the top with basil.
- Cut the 6 red and 6 yellow tomatoes in half lengthwise. Line the tomatoes along the sides of a square serving platter, alternating colors.
- Turn the platter so it is diagonal to you. Line up the finished zucchini cups on the platter in straight rows.