01 October 2012

Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta with Italian Tomato Salsa

Fall is upon us and it's nearly time to party ways with our favorite fresh vegetables of summer.  Zucchini, you've been exceptional this year.  Tomatoes, lovely.  And peppers, though your time is not yet through, you're larger than life thus far.  With a few sunny days left, we decided to grill up a these favorites in a little Ode to Vegetable Goodness.  This was such a hit at dinner, it make an encore showing at lunch the next day.  And weather be darned, I will continue to make these as long as zucchini are still churning out of my local market.

In our household, the grilling season never really ends.  Even on a single-digit snow day, we grill.  If you've put away your barbecue, invest in a good grill pan.  Sometimes a good grill mark is all you need to turn around a ho-hum day.

Now I cannot say enough about the glories of grilled zucchini and the amazing sweet meatiness from a grilled pepper.  But this Italian salsa is a superstar (thought the picture may say otherwise....I was shaking too much with anticipation).  Big, bold flavors mix here to bring you a truly top notch topping. Glorious tomato is augmented with briny Kalamata olives, sweet basil and zesty garlic.  We've done this with both red wine vinegar and balsamic, and both are fabulous.  The hubs is partial to red wine while I lean toward balsamic.  Truly, both are seriously delicious...just pick whichever vinegar is pickling your fancy (yes, pickling not tickling).  The result is fabulous, flavorful and fresh.  It makes me mourn the end of summer...

Lightly toasted whole wheat bread or baguette are a perfect food vessel with their earthy, nutty flavor.  And to really round out the textures in your mouth, creamy goat cheese is the hidden champ.  Buried under piles of vegetables, it's the unsung hero that brings it all together.  It has a bright, summery flavor that is really lovely with the roasted peppers.  Cream cheese would be a great alternative if goat cheese isn't your thing.

Just spread...

...stack & top.  Yum.  Dinner tomorrow?

Warning:  This dish is not tidy.  It's a delicious mess of cascading tomatoes, garlic and olives.  Just check your manners at the door for this one and finger food it up....you'll be glad you did.  

Grilled Vegetable Bruschetta with Italian Tomato Salsa (serves 2-4)
   as inspired by Cookie & Kate
  • 2/3 c diced cherry tomatoes
  • 8 Kalamata olives, finely diced
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 tbs fresh basil
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • olive oil (for brushing)
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread or baguette
  • 4 tbs goat cheese
Start by making the tomato salsa.  Finely chop your cherry tomatoes and olives and place in a small bowl.  Add minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, chili flakes, salt and pepper.  Julienne the basil into thin ribbons by rolling the fresh leaves into a tight tube, then slicing finely.  Sprinkle over the tomato mixture and stir to combine.  Set aside to let the flavors meld together.  This can be made several hours in advance.

Place a grill pan over medium high heat.  Half the pepper and remove the stem, seeds and membrane.  Cut into pieces about the size of your baguette, saving the little bits to grill up as well (the goat cheese holds the smaller pieces together on the toast).  Cut the zucchini in half hot-dog way, then slice into strips the same thickness as the zucchini (about 1/4 inch).  Lightly brush the vegetable slices with olive oil and place on the grill pan.  Cook for 4-6 minutes until grill marks form, then flip and cook until vegetables are soft.  Remove to a plate to cool.

Toast the bread slices and spread with goat cheese.  Lay grilled peppers and zucchini over the goat cheese, then top with the tomato salsa.  Serve at dinner with Gorgonzola topped steak or as a light lunch with salami and cheese.  

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