I have some very exciting news to announce…my little brother is engaged! I got the exciting news on Saturday and naturally my mom and I squealed about it for the next few hours that same night (and more since). Amidst all of our enthusiasm, I started recounting some of the best parts of planning my own wedding. Ironically enough, one of my favorite things was creating a wedding binder of all of our wedding details and tonight I just so happened to complete my new, giant coupon binder (what can I say, I love organization).
Another one of my other favorite parts of planning our wedding was the taste testing for our reception. We got married in February 2010, so we knew from the start that we wanted some warm and inviting appetizers to be served to our guests. I am not sure if all taste testings are the same, but ours was huge and filled with a lot of hearty food. We had so much left over that I think when we took some home, we still got a few dinners out of the deal.
One of the appetizer plates that we were able to try was a trio of crostinis. Our tasting was in the summer and they let us try one of the specials which was a balsamic steak salad…of course, amazing. But, the one that caught my eye and helped inspire me for this particular dish, was a caprese-style crostini.
One of my favorite features of the crostini trio was actually the “bite-able” portions. Many times, my experiences with crostinis have ended up with me smearing a bit of food on my face or ultimately taking my fork to it because the pieces of vegetable or meat or whatever it is ended up being way too big for a single bite. Not the case here. One of the many reasons why I particularly love this crostini dish is the chopped up nature of the topping, it truly is bite-size. (Although it tastes so good, I don’t think I would mind if it ended up on my face)
The combination of the warm, crisp slices of baguette with the cool, fresh topping of chopped tomatoes and basil makes this a great summer combination of flavors and textures. I ended up baking this in my oven, but for anyone trying to resist the heat we have been experiencing, the grill would be a lovely way to cook these too.
Makes 12 small servings
- 1 baguette, cut cross-wise into 1/4″ thick pieces
- 2 extra large vine-ripened tomatoes (or 4 small)
- 1/3 cup fresh Basil leaves, chopped
- 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil + 1/4 cup extra for brushing
- 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
- coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Or bring grill to medium heat, if using). Lightly brush both sides of the baguette slices with olive oil and arrange on a large baking sheet in a single layer. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Place into oven and bake for approx. 7 minutes, then carefully flip each baguette slice and then bake for another 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, remove from oven and flip again. Lightly sprinkle each slice with mozzarella cheese and then place back into the oven for another 2 minutes or so – until cheese is melted and bread is crisp.
- While cooking the baguette slices – core, seed and chop tomatoes. Wash and chop fresh basil into small strips. Combine chopped tomatoes and basil in a large bowl and then mix in 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, onion powder, and balsamic vinegar.
- When baguette slices are ready, remove from baking sheet and arrange on serving platter. Garnish each slice with the tomato/basil mixture. Top with a sprig of fresh basil and a pinch salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Source: modified from Ptit Chef’s recipe for Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Crostini recipe.