My friend Joel would cry and run away if I served him this dish. Why? Because it contains both tomatoes and cheese, his arch nemeses of food. But if you're reading this, odds are you are not Joel and not scared of tomatoes and cheese. First, good for you. Second, please read on.
I absolutely adore these mini toasts. They are a perfect combination of three of my favorite things in life: cheese, tomatoes and fresh basil. Together, this fabulous trio is known as caprese, a simple Italian salad that is my favorite mid-summer side. By adding a base of garlic-rubbed bread, toasted to crunchy perfection, you transform caprese into bruschetta. Basically, just add garlic bread. And who doesn't love garlic bread? (Even Joel likes this stuff.......)
Neither caprese or bruschetta need to be toasted. But the only thing that is more delicious than cheese is melted cheese. Hot, gooey, stringy cheese on crunchy bread wins over just about everybody. I made this dish for my in-laws over the holidays, and it was an enormous hit. Even my father-in-law who doesn't eat tomatoes scarfed down the tomato-free batch prepared especially for him. Nobody can resist hot cheesy bread.
While we've made toasted caprese bruschetta for years, this was the first time we'd topped them with shrimp. The result was so divine, I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to go back. The light, clean flavor profile of caprese and garlicky bread were absolutely perfect with firm and juicy grilled shrimp. High in protein and insanely delicious, I can never get enough of simply grilled shrimp with garlic and lemon. Incredibly easy, healthy and ridiculously delicious, I bet you won't be able to once you try them either.
Though technically an appetizer, we will eat a plate of these with a side of grilled vegetables for dinner. The dish itself is very quick to put together, but there is a bit of prep work involved. You also have to keep a very close eye on your toasts while they are broiling to make sure they don't burn. But from beginning to end, you can get this appetizer on the table in about 10 minutes. Pretty nifty.
Fresh, cheesy, seafood-topped, pop-able toasts. I can't think of a better way to bite into the New Year.
Caprese Shrimp Bruschetta
- 10 oz large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (anywhere from 26/30 to 16/20)
- 1 tbs minced garlic
- juice from 1/2 fresh lemon (about 1 1/2 - 2 tbs)
- 1 tbs unsalted butter, melted (optional)
- 10 oz fresh mozzarella
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 1/4 c fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1 multi-grain or french baguette (both are delicious)
- 1 whole clove garlic
Position an oven rack on the top of your oven, directly under the broiler, and turn the broiler onto high. In a small bowl, combine the shrimp, minced garlic, lemon juice and melted butter (if desired). Season with fresh cracked pepper and toss together. Set aside to marinade.
While the broiler is heating, slice the cheese and tomatoes onto a large cutting board. You want the cheese to be approximately the same size of the bread slices. To julienne the basil, stack the leaves and roll into a tight tube, then thinly slice with a sharp knife. Set the cutting board aside.
On a second cutting board, slice the bread into pieces about 3/4 of an inch thick. Rub the top of each slice with a clove of garlic (or 1 additional teaspoon minced) and place on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven, directly under the broiler. Toast until bread is just golden around the edges (time will vary depending on your broiler). Remove the baking sheet and flip the bread slices over. Toast the second side until just golden, then remove.
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Top each piece of bread with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Place the toasts back under the broiler and toast until the cheese is just starting to bubble and brown. Remove from the oven and turn off the broiler. Transfer the toasts to a serving plate with a spatula. Top with tomato slices and fresh basil, seasoning with pepper to taste.
When the bruschetta are finished, add the shrimp to the heated grill pan. Cook for a minute and a half on each side, until the shrimp are firm and no longer opaque, then immediately remove to a small bowl. Place one grilled shrimp on top of each bruschetta slice. Serve warm. Also lovely when garnished with a balsamic reduction....mmmm......