Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ladybug Caprese

First off, let me be clear. I did not invent these. I recreated them from a picture I saw on Pinterest. Hats off to whoever originally created them. Adorable and delicious, they have already made many appearances this summer season at my parties. These appetizers never fail to delight guests, are the first to be eaten and people talk about them after the party has ended.

The point of posting the recipe is, after much googling, none of the instructions I found included the slight challenges I encountered when making them. So I thought a more detailed recipe would be appreciated by the folks on the interwebs.

As a side note, after I finished creating my very first platter, I did have a thought that anyone who was squeamish about bugs would be too grossed out by them to eat them. So far, this has never happened. People only laugh and squee.

The most important step in creating these is, after cutting all the different pieces out, place them on a few layers of paper towels for at least 1/2 hour to drain.

This is the main problem - when assembled and plated, the ladybugs soon will be swimming in liquid. Not very appetizing. I learned this the hard way after creating my first plate about an hour before guests arrived. My friend, Jackie Gordon, was the one who suggesting disassembling the parts and placing on paper towels to drain. She came to the rescue after seeing the mess I had made. 

The dots are created out of balsamic glaze, not vinegar. The glaze is thicker and makes it easy to form the dots on the back of the bug. Jackie also pointed out that for accuracy, every ladybug has a dot directly behind its head. Yep, she googled it. We're like that.

More Tips:

1) Use grape tomatoes, not cherry tomatoes, you will have to trim them on the stem side but the shape is better than the cherry tomatoes for imitating the ladybug shape.  

2) For the mozzarella, you can use the bocchini shaped (ball shaped) mozzarella. These usually come in two sizes. You do not want the cherry tomato size, you want the bigger size. Cut each piece in at least 3 slices. 

However, I found the packaged precut mozzarella was also the perfect shape and size and also added a bit more volume making the snack a bit heftier. 

3) Place a pop of the balsamic glaze and a dab of good quality extra virgin olive oil on top of the mozzarella before you place the basil leaf on top. I added the olive oil in my second try on these and I think it made them taste even better.

4) I have used different flavored basils in the recipe. I grow licorice, orange, lemon, lime and holy varieties in my garden. Sometimes I substitute them for regular basil or mix up all three to use in the recipes for a multi-flavor pop. Additional sprigs of globe basil make a nice garnish for the platter.

Lady Bug Caprese
Assemble Time: 25 Minutes
Drain Time: 30 minutes
Yield - Roughly 16 pieces


  • 8 grape tomatoes
  • 16 basil leaves, plus more for garnish, if desired. 
  • 1 package of pre-cut mozzarella cheese or 1 container of medium sized bocchini mozzarella balls.
  • 4-6 large pitless black olives
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • (Youll need a toothpick to create the dots on the back of the ladybug)


  • Place a double layer of paper towels on the counter.
  • Open the package of pre-cut mozzarella cheese and separate the pieces (if you are using the large Boccchini shapes, slice each ball into three pieces.
  • Place the mozzarella pieces on the paper towels to drain.
  • Rinse the grape tomatoes and cut each grape tomato in half. Trim off a sliver on the stem side of each tomato half  and place face down on the paper towels to drain.
  • Cut each olive in half and cut each half in thirds. Discard the square middle piece. Place the rounded ends on the paper towels.
  • Let all the pieces drain for at least a 1/2 hour.
  • Wash the basil leaves and gently pat dry. 
  • On a serving dish, place the mozzarella pieces evenly around the platter.
  • Place a dab of balsamic glaze and then a dab of the extra virgin olive oil on top of each piece of mozzarella.
  • Place a basil leaf on top of each piece of mozzarella.
  • Position the cherry tomatoes on top of each basil leaf the way you prefer, either facing the tip or the stem of the basil leaf.
  • Add the olives cut side of the olives to cut side of the tomatoes.
  • Pour some balsamic glaze into a small dish. Dip a toothpick into the glaze and then use it to create a dot on the back of the tomato. Repeat several times on each tomato.
  • If you like, garnish the plate with more basil leaves and serve.


  1. These are incredibly cute, Lora! I'd never have the patience, but who knows, perhaps one of my kids would be determined enough to make these one day.
    (Found you because my friend Ilva Beretta shared the link on fb).

  2. Yum. I will try making these. Just for the esthetic joy they would bring to the table.


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