Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bruschetta with Basil Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes, and Parmesan

This is another one of those recipes that I can't believe I haven't posted yet.  After all, I have plenty of basil pesto in the freezer from last year's harvest, and chopping up the tomatoes takes no time at all. 

But I had family come over last night for dinner, and I wanted to make an appetizer that just screamed "summer."  I also like the fact that bruschetta can sit out and you don't have to worry about it, since it's best served room temperature. 

If you're really pressed for time, or don't have a huge bush of basil in your backyard like I do, you can buy premade pesto.  I'll never know...and I'll bet your guests won't know either. ;-) 

It's not easy getting ready for company with 5 kids running around (well...4, Theresa's not running yet ;-).  So I don't have pics of the process this time, but I promise you really can't mess this up.

Brushetta with Basil Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes, and Parmesan

1 French baguette, sliced 1/4 inch thick on the diagonal
6 roma tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil (for the bread and the topping)
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste
Prepared basil pesto (homemade or store bought)
Shaved/shredded parmesan for garnish

Brush the bread slices on both sides with a little bit of olive oil.  Traditional, the bread slices are rubbed with garlic, but I find the basil pesto provides plenty of flavor, so I don't worry about that step.  I just brush the bread with the olive oil, and toast 'em up in the oven to a nice golden brown. 

The fun part about making the tomato topping is your can personalize it to your taste.  Don't like balsamic vinegar?  Just omit it.  Like more garlic?  Be my guest.  Love a bit of citrus flavor?  Throw in some lemon zest.  It's really up to you!

Combine the tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a medium bowl.  Add the balsamic vinegar (more or less to your taste, and a drizzle of olive oil (again, to your taste).  You make also like a bit of pepper (I find the basil adds enough of a peppery bite for me). 

Not assembling this right away?  You can just leave it out at room temperature for several hours.  If you go this route, don't add any salt until right before serving.  Salt will pull water out of the tomatoes, and make the topping really soggy.  I left my topping out, and added the salt just before serving. 

When you're ready, spread a little bit of the basil pesto on each slice of toasted bread.  Spoon on some of the tomato mixture, and top with a shave or sprinkle of parmesan. 

Set it out on the table, and watch it disappear.  This tray vanished in about 3 seconds flat!  Guess what...I have enough to make more today...much to the relief of Rebecca, who said she didn't get her share last night, ha ha.  :-)

Simple...easy...and healthy too...well, healthy enough for me anyway!  Enjoy!

God bless your table tonight!