Tomato Bruschetta

tomato bruschetta tastefood

Posted by Lynda Balslev

When I make tomato bruschetta, my family always says, “Summer food!” And so it is – especially when it’s made on the grill. Everything happens on our grill year round, I mean, during the summer. For this recipe slices of baguette get all toasty and charred on the Weber. Believe me, it’s worth the step for the flavor and saves you from the heat of the oven broiler. The grilled bread is then smothered with fresh chopped tomatoes infused with fresh basil from the garden, garlic and a glugg of olive oil. So simple, so good. If you could have summer in a mouthful, this would be it.

Tomato Bruschetta

I like the rustic presentation of halved baguette sections. Alternatively, slice the baguette on the diagonal 1/2-inch thick. Serves 4 to 6.

1 1/2 pounds vine ripened tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn in small pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 baguette

Cut each tomato in half, and scoop out the juices and seeds with your fingers or a small spoon. Cut the tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice and place in a bowl. Add 1 minced garlic clove, the olive oil, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Gently stir to combine and taste for seasoning. If you don’t have super sweet tomatoes yet, a pinch of sugar may be added.

Cut the baguette crosswise into 3-inch sections. Halve each section lengthwise.
Grill the bread slices until toasted, turning once. Arrange on a platter cut-side up. Peel 2 garlic cloves and slightly crush with a knife. Rub the garlic cloves over the bread.

Figs and Brie

fig cheese tastefood

Figgy cheese – or would that be cheesy figs?

Simplicity combined with fresh ingredients is the essence of great summer food. There need not be a lot of fuss when produce is at it’s peak in flavor. Keep it simple so that nature’s flavors shine through. I made these figs as an appetizer the other night with a minimum of ingredients in 10 minutes. You can too.

Oven Roasted Figs and Brie with Thyme

Drizzle a little honey over the figs after they roast, if desired. These figs were so sweet and sublime I chose not to add anymore sugar. These figs are also delicious on crostini.

Makes 12

6 large ripe fresh figs, halved lengthwise
4 ounces soft rind cheese, such as brie, camembert, reblechon
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs

Heat the oven broiler. Place the figs in a cast iron pan or baking dish cut-side up. Slice the cheese and cut in squares no larger than the width of the figs. Lay the slices in the center of the figs. Broil until the cheese is melted and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little olive oil. Lightly season with a few pinches of salt and a grinding or two of black pepper. Garnish with fresh thyme. Serve immediately.

More fig inspiration:
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary from TasteFood
Grilled Figs with Honeyed Mascarpone from the Kitchn
Roasted Fig Flatbreads with Chevre and Greens from Annie Eats

Smoked Trout Pate

smoked trout plate tastefood

Smoked Trout Pâté is the ideal recipe to have on hand for the holidays. Not only is it a snap to prepare, it’s versatile; elegant enough for a fancy party and simple enough for a fireside dinner. The ingredients are minimal and may be purchased in advance and stored in the refrigerator, ready to be blitzed at a moment’s notice or a surprise guest’s arrival. The smoky trout is fluffed and lightened with lemon and cream cheese, then crowned with crunchy toasted almonds and fresh chives. The flavor is so addictively good you might want to double up on the quantities, so you can make a separate stash for yourself.

smoked trout

Smoked Trout Pâté

Serve the pâté on baguette slices, pumpernickel rounds, or cubed pumpernickel bread. Don’t hold back on the almonds. Their nutty flavor and crunchy texture are what set these canapes apart. Smoked mackerel may be substituted for the trout. Makes about 2 cups.

Pâté:
8 ounces smoked trout (or mackerel), skin and any bones removed
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup grated onion with juices
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

Thinly sliced European-style pumpernickel squares, rounds or baguette slices
1/3 cup almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
Chopped chives

Process all of the pâté ingredients in the bowl of a food processor until light and smooth. If too thick, add a little more lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl. To serve, smear on pumpernickel bread or baguette slices. Sprinkle with almonds and chives.

Cooking for your Health: Smoked Salmon Tartare

~ Smoked Salmon, Greek Yogurt, Lemon, Dill, Chives, Whole Grain Bread ~

Party food can be healthy, too. In fact, during the festive season, it’s important to have a few healthy recipes up our sleeves that are fancy enough to be invited to the holiday table while balancing the season’s excess. Smoked Salmon Tartare is a perfect multi-tasking appetizer: It has fresh, bold flavors, is rich in protein, B vitamins, and calcium and is low-fat to boot. It may be dressed up and served on brioche toasts, or kept more casual, presented on baguette slices, or, in this case, whole grain pumpernickel bread. Garnish it with fresh herbs and lemon, and don’t forget to pass the champagne – it’s the party season, after all.

Smoked Salmon Tartare

For best results, finely chop the salmon, onion and chives in similar minced size. I prefer to do this by hand with a knife, rather than use a food processor, which will often create a paste.

8 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
Whole wheat or pumpernickel rounds
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Finely dice the smoked salmon. Transfer to a bowl. Fold in the onion, yogurt and lemon juice. Add the dill and chives and gently combine. Mound spoonfuls of the salmon on pumpernickel or whole wheat rounds. Sprinkle with sea salt (to taste) and freshly ground black pepper. Serve garnished with lemon segments.

Warm Smoked Salmon Salad Tartines

Warm Smoked Salmon Salad Tartines

~ Warm Smoked Salmon, Kale, Lemon, Capers, Parsley ~

I was gifted some loot this weekend. Loot, for me, often comes in the edible form, and this gift – a 2 pound package of warm smoked Alaskan salmon – didn’t disappoint. It managed to sit in my refrigerator for all of 18 hours before I couldn’t stand it anymore and ripped the plastic wrapping open for a taste. And another. Before things got too out of hand, I decided to whip up a recipe to use the rest of the salmon before I devoured the whole slab of fish. Naturally, I needed to taste the recipe as I tweaked it, so a small, er, nicely sized bowl managed to remain untouched until dinner when we made these as an appetizer.

Smoked Salmon Salad Tartines

Depending on your mood (or where you might like to be) these can be called tartines, bruschette or open-face sandwiches. For a lighter version, omit the bread and serve the salmon salad simply on the kale leaves. Warm smoked salmon is available in fish markets and specialty stores. To learn more about how it’s prepared, read here.
Makes 10.

10 ounces warm smoked salmon, flaked
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 teaspoons capers, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha or hot sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 slices baguette, cut 1/2-inch thick, or 5 slices peasant/levain bread, cut in half
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
10 Tuscan kale leaves (or baby gem lettuce leaves)
1/2 lemon

Combine the salmon, onion, parsley, lemon juice, yogurt, capers, Sriracha and pepper in a bowl. Mix with a fork to thoroughly combine. Brush the bread with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Toast in oven until light golden on both sides. Remove and cool slightly. Tear 2-inch tips off of the kale leaves. (Save the rest of the kale for another use). Place a leaf tip on bread. Brush with olive oil. Spoon salmon salad over the kale. Squeeze with half lemon.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Tuna Melt from Bona Fide Farm Food
Roasted Tomato Tartine from the Kitchn
Bruschetta with Chanterelles and Brie from Herbivoracious
Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup from TasteFood
Peach and Blue Cheese Bruschetta with Honey and Thyme from TasteFood
Roasted Salmon with Green Olive and Almond Tapenade from TasteFood

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup

Avocado, Balsamic Syrup, Sea Salt, Grilled Bread

The avocado is a healthy staple in our California kitchen.  Avocados are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and high in monounsaturated fat.  They are rich in potassium, zinc, and B vitamins, as well as vitamins C, E and K.  Due to their creamy texture and subtle flavor, the avocado is a perfect base for dips, drinks and even ice cream, while their coolness provides a foil to spice and heat in salsas and salads. Having said that, my favorite way to eat an avocado is on grilled bread with lemon and sea salt. When I feel extra fancy, I reduce balsamic vinegar to a viscous syrup which I  paint on the avocado slices. The only adornment required is a pinch of sea salt and a shower of black pepper. It’s simple, sublime and all about the avocado.  Continue reading Avocado Bruschetta

Ramped Up Crostini with Ricotta and Pea Shoots

Ramped Up Crostini with Ricotta and Pea Shoots

~ Crostini with Ramps, Pea Shoots, Ricotta, Mint and Lemon ~

Spring is the time of new beginnings when fresh shoots and early leaves offer a taste of the season to come. Like a teen, these less mature greens are a contrast of nice and naughty – tender yet sharp in flavors that will develop and smooth with maturity. In this simple recipe, chopped ramps add bite and attitude to fluffy ricotta which is smeared over crostini and topped with a jumble of sweet, tender pea shoots.  Little else is needed except a pinch of fresh mint and a squeeze of lemon to shout spring and make these crostini pop.

Note: This recipe is a finalist this week in Food52’s recipe contest for “your best allum.”  Head over to Food52 and check out the contest and all of the other delicious goodies on their site, which just received an award from the James Beard Foundation for Publication of the Year!

Crostini with Ramps and Shoots

Ramps are wild leeks and resemble a scallion. Their long, broad green leaves and burgundy tinged bulb are edible. Green garlic is young garlic and also resembles a scallion. Green garlic may be substituted for the ramps.

Makes 8

8 one-inch thick baguette slices, sliced on the diagonal
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped ramps or green garlic, bulbs and stems only
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Generous handful pea shoots
1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly brush bagette slices with olive oil. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake in oven until golden brown on both sides, turning once, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove.
Mix ricotta, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper in a bowl until fluffy. Stir in ramps, mint and lemon zest. Spread ricotta on baguette slices.
Top crostini with a large pinch of pea shoots. Drizzle a little olive oil over crostini, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt and black pepper.