I’m always experimenting with new recipes and flavor combinations but there are a few classic food pairings that shouldn’t be messed with. Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and eggs. Milk and cookies. And in my opinion, tomatoes and basil.
Bruschetta is the ultimate summer appetizer- it’s simple, rustic and always a crowd pleaser. There are endless varieties of bruschetta, but I like to take advantage of seasonal produce as much as possible. What better dish to showcase beautiful, lush tomatoes and fresh basil? In this case, I was inspired by the lovely heirloom cherry tomatoes at my farmers’ market. I simply toss them with fresh basil and a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to enhance their natural flavor. When produce is at its best, no need to get fancy, just let it shine.
In traditional bruschetta, the toasted bread is often rubbed with raw garlic. In my version, I top the bread instead with a mixture of roasted garlic and farmer’s cheese. To learn all about how to make roasted garlic, take a look at my last post by clicking here. The roasted garlic adds a delicious, mellow garlicky flavor without the pungent bite of raw garlic. Farmer’s cheese (also called farmer cheese) is a mild flavored, low fat cheese that’s cultured from reduced fat milk. It’s traditionally used as a filling in blintzes and pierogies. I used Friendship brand, which has only 40 calories and 2.5g fat (1.5g saturated) in a 1 ounce serving, which is about 2 tablespoons. When making farmer’s cheese, the liquid whey is drained off and the curds are pressed, yielding a product that’s drier than cottage cheese and crumbly. If you can’t find it, you can substitute part skim ricotta or cottage cheese.
Toasted bread topped with roasted garlic, farmer’s cheese, fresh summer tomatoes and basil- it doesn’t get much simpler or more delicious than that. Why mess with a good thing?
Rustic Summer Bruschetta
Makes 24 pieces or 8 servings
1 container (12 oz) heirloom cherry tomato mix, diced
2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 French baguette, sliced on the diagonal into 1/3-inch slices
1 head roasted garlic
6 ounces farmer’s cheese
Stir the tomatoes, vinegar, oil and basil together in a bowl. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Turn the broiler on. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet in a single layer and place under the broiler for a 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted.
Squeeze the roasted garlic into a bowl. Add the cheese and mash them together until combined. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
Spread a small amount of the roasted garlic farmer’s cheese onto each slice of bread and top with some of the tomato mixture. Arrange the bruschetta on a platter and serve.
One serving (3 pieces):Calories 164; Fat 4.4g (Sat 1.5g); Protein 7.8g; Carb 23.5g; Fiber 1.4g