Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Shallots and Thyme

roasted cherry tomato bruschetta

This might be my favorite way to make bruschetta. Scratch that– this is definitely my favorite way to make bruschetta. I serve this as an appetizer every time we have someone over for dinner, and it’s usually gobbled up so quickly that I only get to sneak a bite or two.

Assorted cherry tomatoes roasted with shallots, thyme, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of brown sugar. Di-vine. I usually put the tomato yumminess in a bowl and serve it alongside toasted crostini and a log of goat cheese topped with lemon zest and red pepper flakes. So good! I love goat cheese, even if my best friend Haley thinks it smells like a farm. She’s kinda right. I ‘ve actually noticed lately that the goat cheese has such a strong presence that the subtle sweetness of the roasted tomatoes can be overlooked, and that’s just a shame. To remedy that and to help the tomatoes shine like the star they are, I served it up with…you guessed it…the homemade ricotta from a few days ago.

roasted tomato crostini

One bite and I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing the Hallelujah chorus. Hello match made in heaven! The creamy ricotta with its mild hint of saltiness is the perfect base on which to serve the bright tomatoes bursting with sweetness and flavor from the shallots and thyme. We took these little cuties to our sunset picnic at the beach with my mom and dad, and they ate them up long before the sun dove into the Pacific. My mom referred to them as “crack”. I double checked and confirmed that was a compliment.

If you heeded my advice and made yourself a ton of ricotta, let this be one of the ways you enjoy it. It will be hard, but don’t use it all up because I have a few more suggestions coming your way soon. Once I started brainstorming it was hard to turn it off! There are apparently an infinite amount of ways to cook with ricotta, each more delicious-sounding than the next. What’s a girl to do? I guess I’ll go curdle more milk!

ricotta-and-roasted-tomato-crostini_forweb

Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta

4 cups assorted colors of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from stem
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare a sheet tray by lining with aluminum foil. This will make clean up easier and keep all of the goodness from sticking to the pan.
  3. Scatter halved cherry tomatoes, shallots and thyme on the tray and lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and pepper and toss to coat tomatoes evenly.
  4. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes are bursting and shallots are softened and beginning to caramelize.
  5. Remove from oven and spoon everything into a serving bowl.
  6. Serve alongside toasted crostini and ricotta cheese.

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5 Things to Eat Before Summer is REALLY Gone With the Wind

 

 

heirloomtomatoes

 

Cold Soup- Keep your house cool on a hot summer day and whip up a no-cook gazpacho. Tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers are at their peak this time of year so there’s no better time to eat them in their “raw’ form. Did I mention the health benefits are even greater before all of the nutrients have been cooked out? I’d love to include a gazpacho on the weekly meal plan but knowing what men like my husband and dad would say, I haven’t gotten that brave yet. Check out Ree Drummond’s Gazpacho recipe for one of the best I’ve tasted…and guess what guys, she tops it with shrimp!

Squash Blossoms- These vibrant, orange blossoms most often from a zucchini plant can be found at farmer’s markets around the country during summer. Stuff them with a creamy herbed cheese mixture and lightly fry them up, or thinly slice and sprinkle over a pasta dish. You can’t go wrong. Check out this source for more squash blossom inspiration.

Peaches- Peaches are at their absolute best for a few more weeks. Juicy and sweet- it’s time to take advantage of them. You could toss them in a cobbler, but let’s be honest, couldn’t you do that with frozen peaches just as easily? My suggestion is good old fashioned Peaches and Cream. Slice them up and pour in half and half, or if you dare- heavy cream! Peachy, creamy heaven in a bowl.

Heirloom Tomatoes- Look for heirlooms with their funky shapes and wide spectrum of colors. So ugly they’re cute, as a general rule heirloom tomatoes come from a seed that is at least 50 years old. When preparing an heirloom tomato keep in mind that less is more. Of course you can sauté it up in a pasta dish or roast some to intensify their already perfectly sweet flavor, but I think the nicest thing you can do is just leave them alone. Drizzle chopped heirlooms with good quality extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Simple salad perfection. Check out the entries and winners from Food52’s Heirloom Tomato Recipe Contest for more ideas.

Dessert in a Mason Jar- This was totally my Labor Day game plan. I was in charge of the dessert portion of our weekend potluck so I thought that Banana Pudding served up in a mason jar would be the perfect salute to summer’s farewell. Well, it would have been had I not completely misplaced my mason jars! They must have grown legs and hitch-hiked back to the South because I can’t find them anywhere. The banana pudding was delish, but I just know it would have tasted even better layered into a mason jar! Need more mason jar inspiration? Check out this cute blog with all sorts of tips and tricks.

Sweet, Sweet Summer

Summer Sauté Close Up

I can’t believe summer is almost behind us! How can that be? It seems like only a few short days ago I was excited about the arrival of spring and now it’s late August. Too fast! If you’re like us summer is a very busy time of year. Maybe it’s because we happen to live in a pretty fabulous destination spot and play host to family and friends during their annual vacations…which we LOVE doing…or maybe it’s because my husband and I both also see summer as the official countdown to college football season. Either way it’s here today and gone tomorrow like no other season. Luckily, we have a few more weeks to go; weeks in which I will make every possible trip to the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market I can, and grab all of my favorite summertime fruits and veggies as long as they’re available. My checklist of ingredients that I’ve yet to cook with this season is pretty long, but the good news is I’m back in the kitchen every night as usual so I have plenty of time to get cracking on them. First up next week- squash blossoms! Those little suckers will be stuffed with cheese and fried in a white wine batter as soon as I get my hands on them this weekend. Post to follow!

Last night I stumbled upon a very seasonal, very tasty, and very easy side dish. I’m so excited about this dish that I can’t wait to make it a part of the meal plan for our subscribers next week. If you’ve ever imagined what summer on a plate would taste like, this is it! Zucchini, sweet yellow corn and juicy cherry tomatoes tossed with thyme, oregano, basil, and parmesan cheese, all rounded out with a squeeze of lime juice. It’s hearty yet light, and the bright zing from the lime juice elevates the flavor above your average vegetable sauté or ratatouille. It’s everything a summer side dish should be- fun, bright, colorful, healthful and zippy! 🙂 I love it and can’t wait for you try it. Let me know what you think!

Summer Sauté in Pan

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 large zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup  grated Parmesan

  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, being careful not to burn.
  2. Add the zucchini and corn and sauté for 1 minute. Add in salt, pepper, basil, oregano and thyme. Continue to cook for 2 minutes more.
  3. Add in cherry tomatoes and lime juice and cook for just another minute more or until tomatoes just begin to burst.
  4. Toss in parmesan cheese and stir to coat. Serve.

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BLT Pasta Bake

Everyone has their own version of comfort food. For some, it’s a dish they grew up eating at their grandma’s house. For others, it’s a quick run through their favorite fast food chain. Either way, we all love to indulge in our own brand of comfort from time to time. Comfort food transports us from the busyness and stress of our day to a place of fond memories, peace and happy thoughts. That’s what pasta does for me. I love a good pasta dish. Although my waistline would not be very forgiving, I could literally eat pasta every single day. I don’t…but I could. I try to include one pasta dish in each week’s meal plan. Some times those dishes are actually on the lighter side, showcasing whole wheat pasta and fresh veggies. Still delicious and still my own brand of comfort. But other times I like to go all out, and that’s what BLT Pasta Bake is all about.

What makes this pasta bake so fun is that the individual ingredients are all awesome in their own right. Leeks? Yes please! Bacon? Obviously. Cream cheese, asiago cheese AND parmesan cheese? Perfection.

If you’re looking for a little bit of comfort today, look no further. BLT Pasta Bake is where it’s at. Enjoy!!

BLTpasta

 

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. package rigatoni
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced
¼ cup dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon, crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 3 oz. bricks cream cheese
1 ½ cups asiago cheese
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil

  1. Cook rigatoni according to package directions. RESERVE 1 CUP OF PASTA WATER!!
  2. Heat oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large oven-proof braising pan or skillet. Add bacon and cook until crispy.
  4. Add leek, garlic and red pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes. Deglaze pan with white wine, scraping up brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Stir in tomato paste, half of asiago cheese and all of  the cream cheese. Add reserved pasta water and stir until cheese is melted and everything is combined. It will be sticky.
  6. Stir in rigatoni and half of the cherry tomatoes. Top with remaining tomatoes, asiago and parmesan.
  7. Cook in oven for 7 to 8 minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t brown too quickly.
  8. Serve.