This recipe is heavenly. I've probably made it at least four times and every time I do, people ask me for the recipe. It's beyond memorable. I love any type of toasted baguette and tomato combination - bruschetta as they call it in Italy. But what really makes this recipe sing is the whipped feta with lemon. It's so unique yet the feta and lemon married together with the toasted baguette, tomatoes, basil and garlic, becomes a harmonious melding of flavors -- all so "fresh and so clean."
I hosted a dinner party last weekend and I knew there would be a lot of prep work involved. One guest was a vegan so that required my finding something new to make and then some recipe testing - but this recipe is mindless. And although it's not as simple as throwing some cheese and bread on a plate, I knew that my vegan guest could appreciate the crostini almost as much as we cheese lovers do because the tomato topping is so good on it's own. And because I have made it so many times and it is fail safe, I knew it would be a fun way to start the evening. I like to start a party out with prosecco, it sends me straight to Italy and it always feels so festive but light at the same time. It paired perfectly with the crostini. Here is the recipe:
- 6 ounces good feta (I use the 6 oz. crumbled feta from TJ's and it is fabulous)
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 2/3 C EVOO divided
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 cloves shallots finely minced
- 2 garlic cloves finely minced
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 lb ripe cherry tomatoes (I prefer tomatoes with some color variations, looks so pretty) 1/2 inch diced
- 3 Tbs julienned fresh basil leaves (reserve some for garnish)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. This will be to toast the bread which we will get to later on. Begin by whipping the feta and cream cheese in the food processor. Pulse until the two cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 c of oil, the lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper. Process again until totally smooth.
And onto the tomatoes: Up to an hour before serving, combine the shallots, garlic and vinegar in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Then add the tomatoes and stir gently. Set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil, taste for seasoning (which should go without saying :).
Slice one large baguette into 1 inch pieces and coat each side with good EVOO. Place them onto a cookie sheet and toast for 6-8 minutes. Let cool. Once cooled, spread each slice of bread with a very hefty serving of the cheese mixture and top that with the tomatoes. Add basil as a garnish. Ina likes to add toasted pine nuts to garnish as well but I omitted this time and it was just as good. Enjoy the yumminess!