Okay, so we are reaching the end of tomato season in Michigan. If you’re looking for a new way to serve fresh tomatoes, this is it! This comes from Ina Garten, called Tomato Crostini with whipped feta. I was craving it the minute I saw it. It took me a couple of weeks to get to it, then a couple of weeks more to get where I could make it and get a decent picture to show you, but trust me, it is worth the wait. The first time I made this was when I was staying with my son. There were four of us, and I made it as an appetizer before dinner. All four of us were blown away, saying “forget dinner, I could just eat this!” (which is exactly what I did when I made this for myself the other night when I took the picture. That was dinner, and it was enough for me). Then I made it for a family picnic, about 20 people, and it was a huge hit there as well.
For this batch, I happened to find a pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes. Boy, were they good! Don’t forget, this could be easily adjusted to suit your own taste. If you don’t like onion or shallots, leave them out. Adjust the amount of garlic or vinegar or oils, whatever. Just remember when you add extra of anything, you cant take it back out, so add things a little at a time.
And don’t tell me you don’t like feta cheese, because that doesn’t matter. My daughter doesn’t like feta, so she almost didn’t try it with the cheese mixture. She tried it with just the tomato mixture and loved it. A bit later, she was convinced by everyone who was eating it that she had to at least try one bite. She was amazed and said she was very glad she tried it that wasy, as she would have missed out. It looks kind of time consuming, but seriously, it’s just chopping the tomatoes and tossing them with a few ingredients, then whipping the cheese together with a few ingredients. I didn’t fuss a lot with the bread, just got a good loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced it then threw it in a hot oven to toast, at about 400 degrees for 5 minutes or so, until its browned a bit and crunchy. Watch it closely though! Once it starts to brown it goes quick. Any crusty bread would work, just toast it until it’s good and crunchy.
- Cheese spread:
- 6 ounces good feta, crumbled
- 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup good olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Tomato Mixture:
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots (minced onion will work if you can't get shallots)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
- 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
- 2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, ½-inch-diced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
- 20 to 25 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal ciabatta or baguette slices, toasted
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts - optional
- For the cheese spread, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add ⅓ cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
- For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you're serving, combine the shallots (or onion), garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining ⅓ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.
- To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.