Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Three Cheese Crostini

1 1/2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, loosely measured
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel, loosely measured
16 slices French or artisan type baguette, cut 1/4-inch thick on the diagonal
2 to 3 grinds black peppercorns (using handheld grinder)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup finely shredded fresh Pecorino Romano cheese, loosely measured


Position an oven rack 5 to 6 inches from the broiler element. Preheat the broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

In a small bowl gently toss the tomatoes, shallots, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and vinegar together. Spread out the mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Set the baking sheet on a rack under the broiler element. Broil until the tomatoes begin to show a few black spots, about 4 minutes with oven door closed. Turn the mixture, using a spatula, and broil 3 minutes longer with the oven door closed. Remove from the oven and transfer the mixture with a slotted spoon to a small bowl; set the bowl aside until needed. Retain the broiler heat on high.

While the tomatoes are broiling, combine the ricotta, blue cheese, pesto, 1/2 teaspoon salt, lemon juice and lemon peel in a medium bowl.

Arrange the baguette slices on a large baking sheet and brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Put the baking sheet on the rack under the broiler element and broil until golden, about 1 minute or so per side, watching carefully. Remove from oven.

To assemble, season the tomato mixture with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and peppercorns, then stir in the basil. Spread some of the ricotta mixture over each crostini. Top with the tomato/onion mixture, then sprinkle with shredded cheese, dividing all the ingredients equally among the slices. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.

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