When I was developing the recipe for Quick-Grilled Ratatouille featured in Grill Every Day, I tasted one of the cherry tomatoes hot off the grill and decided that skewered tomatoes with basil would make a quick, colorful side dish. I had extra tomatoes and basil on hand, and the grill was hot, so I threaded some skewers to put my idea to work! I grill the skewers over direct heat for only a minute so the basil leaves don’t scorch, and then finish them in a cooler zone. For a fun appetizer for a party, serve the room-temperature skewers with a tiny ball (bocconcino) of fresh mozzarella threaded onto the end of each one.
8 (7-inch) bamboo skewers soaked in water for 15 minutes, then drained
40 (about 1 pint) cherry tomatoes
32 large fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Immerse the skewers before lighting the grill so they have plenty of time to soak. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on medium-high.
To assemble the skewers, thread 5 tomatoes onto each skewer, placing a basil leaf, folded in half crosswise, between the tomatoes. Arrange the skewers in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and brush the tomatoes generously on all sides with the olive oil.
To create a cool zone, bank the coals to one side of the grill or turn off one of the burners. Oil the grill grate. Place the skewers directly over the medium-hot fire and grill, turning once, until light grill marks appear on both sides, about 30 seconds per side. Move the skewers to the cooler part of the grill, cover, and grill until the tomatoes are hot but the skin hasn’t blistered, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Transfer the skewers to a serving platter and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.