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Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

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Bruschetta is one of those things; there seems to be so many variations and everyone has their own version.  Is it cooked and served warm?  Cold and raw?  Does it have garlic?  onions?  cheese?  vinegar or not?  About the only thing I know for certain, is that usually always involves tomatoes, basil and toast as an open-faced sandwich of sorts.  I guess the same could be said for almost any recipe, but it does surprise me that there seem to be infinite different versions something so simple– and all by the same name.

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And this is my style of bruschetta, and I’ve tried enough to be confident to say this is most definitely my favourite.

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This unseasonably warm weather lately has me getting excited for gardening season (and pining  for fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes!)

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 25 min YIELD: 4 servings

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 medium mixed variety heirloom tomatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small onion, diced small (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped, (or substitute 2 tsp dried)
  • 2 heaping tbsp parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • small pinch of salt/pepper to taste
  • French bread, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • olive oil
 Directions:
  1. Preheat broiler to 425F.
  2. Brush oil on sliced bread and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Broil toasts under high heat for ~5 minutes, or until tops just start to brown then remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in small frying pan, fry diced onion in 1 tsp of olive oil just until softened and starting to brown (about 5-8 minutes).  Cooking the onions helps to mellow the strong flavour.
  4. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and toss in the cooked onions then let the mixture sit for at least 30 min before enjoying.
  5. Don’t top the toasted bread with tomato mixture until you’re ready to serve, otherwise the toasts tend to get a bit soggy.  Garnish with some fresh basil leaves if you’re feeling particularly fancy.
garlicscapesto

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto

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I’m still over the moon with my recent discovery of Garlic Scapes.  Craving some garlic’y pasta goodness, I decided to try  my hand at Garlic Scape Basil Pesto.  I adapted my regular go-to recipe for Basil Pesto for the substitution.

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PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 15 min    YIELD: ~2 cups
Ingredients:
  • 7 to 8 large garlic scapes
  • 1  and 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
 Directions:
  1. Cut garlic scapes in approx 1/2 inch to 1 inch long pieces then add to food processor, along with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, salt, and lemon juice.  Process, and gradually add olive oil and mix until mixture is a fine consistency.
  2. Add grated parmesan and mix to combine.
  3. Stir the pesto into your favourite cooked pasta, or portion and freeze for future use.
basil

Basil Pesto

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This is my all-time favorite pesto recipe, and one of my favorite recipes period.  It’s great with pastas, gnocchi, paninis or sandwiches for a quick meal, and can be used in various other recipes.

I realize it may seem like a daunting task to make your own pesto when it’s just so convenient to buy it in a jar- but trust me, the taste and freshness is well worth making your own.  If you’re still hung up on the convenience of pre-made pesto, why not make a large batch, portion it, then freeze it for future use (otherwise known as “freezer cooking”)?  This is especially great when you can find a large bunch of basil at your local grocery store, or if you grow it yourself.

Unfortunately, between the cats and myself, we tend to kill any poor houseplants (including herbs) that find their way into our home.  But luckily, our local italian market sells large bunches of basil for cheap.

PREP TIME: 20 min    COOK TIME: 0 min    TOTAL TIME: 20 min    YIELD: 4
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp of pine nuts (or pistachios)
  • 1 walnut (optional if you don’t happen to have any)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese (or just more Parmesan if you don’t have any or can’t find any)
  • pinch of salt
Directions:
  1. Mince garlic and add a little bit of oil then add the pine nuts and walnut and blend; I prefer using a hand mixer, but a food processor should do the job.
  2. Add the basil and a pinch of salt then blend a bit at a time turning the food processor on and off rather than letting it run continuously so you don’t “cook” the basil.
  3. Add the oil blend again (not too much).
  4. When the pesto reaches a smooth consistency put it in a bowl, add the cheese and lemon juice and combine well using a wooden spoon. Presto, pesto!

Because I usually just make this for my husband and myself, I would divide up this recipe and reserve half for another day. Often I will double or triple this recipe and divide accordingly and freeze for future use. I find a convenient way to do this is by dividing the pesto using a silicone muffin pan, freezing then removing the “frozen pesto discs” and storing in a freezer bag.  I hope you enjoy!