|Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013|
I don’t know about you, but I love fresh vegetables from the garden in the summertime. My father still has close to 100 tomato plants each year, and he is always so generous to share with family, neighbors, and friends. Growing up, we never wanted for any summer fruits and vegetables because of Daddy’s garden. From squash to tomatoes to onions to watermelon, our cup runneth over.
Other than delicious thickly sliced garden tomato sandwiches served with mayonnaise, salt, and pepper on white bread, my favorite tomato dish is bruschetta. There are many variations and ways to make a delicious tomato bruschetta, but my preference is to use small tomatoes. For some reason, the flavor seems more intense in these bite-sized vegetables. The combination of fresh basil, lemon juice, salt, olive oil, and the juicy tomatoes is unparalleled. Personally, I think that the flavors are better when I mix different types and colors of grape or cherry tomatoes, including the yellow and red varieties.
Watching the Food Network recently, I saw my favorite chef, Ina Garten, as she was preparing a variation of bruschetta that uses a feta spread. Although I didn’t search for her exact recipe, I made the dish, working from memory and adding whatever I fancied. I’m sharing my version here with you, and I suspect that it is close enough to Ina’s recipe that the Barefoot Contessa deserves the credit for inspiring my plate.
1 French baguette, sliced in 1-2 inch pieces, at a diagonal
Good quality Extra Virgin Olive oil for brushing the slices of French bread
5 cups yellow and red grape and cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
½ cup fresh basil, julienned
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup plus 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1- 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened
1- 6 oz. block feta cheese
2 tbs. plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp. salt
splash of hot sauce
2 cups toasted pine nuts
Brush each slice of baguette with olive oil and toast in preheated 375 degree oven for 7-10 minutes. Remove and set aside or store in container once cooled.
Combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, parsley, basil, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice in large glass bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend.
Next, place pine nuts in a sauté pan on medium high heat and toast until lightly browned. This will help to bring out the earthy flavor of the nuts. Allow to cool and store in a container until ready to enjoy.