Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bruschetta and Crostini

This past Sunday Robert and I were invited to a dinner party at a friend's house and we were tasked with bringing along an appetizer. Bringing an appetizer to someone else's house can be a tricky endeavor. Hot appetizers are generally less ideal given the fact that it's difficult to keep the appetizer hot during transport. For that reason I generally stick to appetizers that are intended to be served cold or at room temperature. Bruschetta and crostini are a great appetizer both for the ability to serve them at room temperature and the ease to which you can prepare the elements ahead of time and assemble once you arrive at your destination.

Now you may be asking, what is the distinction between bruschetta and crostini? Basically, crostini is toasted baguette that is topped with a pesto or other spread. Bruschetta is also toasted baguette or sometimes ciabatta and is topped with a combination of fresh tomatoes, herbs and sometimes cheese. I am not a person who enjoys raw tomatoes so while I enjoy the beauty of bruschetta, I do not enjoy the taste. I do, however enjoy sun-dried tomatoes and therefore decided to add it to the appetizer list and serve both crostini and bruschetta at once.

I got the inspiration for the bruschetta from a local pizza restaurant in Dallas known as Fireside Pies. The combination of fresh grape tomatoes, fresh arugala and goat cheese provides the taster with the fresh taste of a spring garden. Conversely, the sun-dried tomato pesto is rich and complex. The contrast between the two is perfect to make it a great appetizer combo.

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Fresh Spring Bruschetta

1 Baguette
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Soft goat cheese
Fresh arugala
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning

Preheat the broiler. Cut the baguette diagonally into little rounds and place on a baking sheet.
Brush the bread with two tablespoons of the olive oil.
Place in the oven until the bread is toasted golden, about 2-3 minutes depending on your oven.
Remove from the oven and rub a garlic clove over the bread slices. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile cut the grape tomatoes in half and place in a storage container.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Italian Seasoning and stir to combine.
Let the tomatoes marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes up until an hour before serving. When it's time to serve, begin by spreading a layer of goat cheese on top of each toasted baguette slice.
Top the cheese with arugala leaves,
and the marinated tomatoes.
Serve and enjoy.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Crostini
1 baguette
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
3/4 cup toasted walnuts
1 cup fresh basil, packed
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Prepare the crostini by slicing and toasting the baguette as described in the bruschetta recipe above. While the crostini are cooling, combine in a food processor the sun-dried tomatoes,
parmesan cheese, garlic,
salt, pepper and olive oil.
Process until smooth.
Place the pesto on top of the toasted baguette slices, serve and enjoy.

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