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The Passionate Pursuit of Delight

Ingredient: shallot

Tomato Bruschetta with Aged Balsamic Drizzle

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One of my favorite things to do with a bowlful of garden tomatoes is to make tomato bruschetta with an aged balsamic drizzle. Sweet, juicy tomatoes flavored with shallots and garlic atop of a crispy slice of baguette. Bruschetta is the garden’s gift to people who love to snack.

I don’t recommend making bruschetta with store-bought tomatoes, they just don’t have a desirable flavor and texture. You might be able to get away with using the little grape tomatoes if you are desperate for bruschetta when tomatoes aren’t in season. But, I typically only pull this recipe out during the summer months.

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Bruschetta is a quick and easy appetizer to serve with drinks or as a starter served with soup or salad. Much of this recipe can prepped ahead of time. Bruschetta can be assembled just before serving or I like to set up bruschetta bar and let my guests assemble their own.

How to Make Bruschetta

Once you’ve chopped the tomatoes, the other veggies and seasonings, the bruschetta mixture should sit in the fridge for a while. This will allow the flavors to develop. The next step is to make the balsamic reduction. The drizzle of balsamic vinegar adds a tangy sweetness to the tomatoes. Reducing balsamic vinegar on the stove top in a small saucepan until syrupy is easy and yields a delicious result. If you haven’t tried making it, do it! You won’t be disappointed.

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So, the clock is ticking on garden tomatoes…..tick, tick, tick! So, before they are gone, grab a gorgeous baguette, slice it up, brush the slices with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Broil or grill until golden and crispy. Top with tomato mixture, and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction. Consume and repeat!

If you want to understand what makes a good French baguette then check out this short video.

Other appetizer recipes you  may want to check out:

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Parmesan Garlic Clams

Parmesean Garlic Clams overhead shot

I used to feel intimidated by the thought of cooking clams. How do I store them once I get home? What do I need to do to prep them for cooking? It all seemed somewhat overwhelming. But, you know what they say, you should do one thing every day that scares you. I am so glad that one day I decided to face my fear and figure out how to cook clams. Boy, am I glad that I did because these Parmesan Garlic Clams are now part of my repertoire.

Besides fresh clams, the key to this type of preparation is having a flavorful broth to cook the clams in. In order to make Parmesan Garlic Clams, you will use butter, white wine, and broth as the base and shallot and garlic for flavor. A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes add a spicy note. But, a crucial part of this dish is having a crusty baguette available to soak up that delicious broth.

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The most important part of the process is getting clams that fresh and have been properly handled. I only buy fresh clams from my fish market or local grocery store whose fish department has a reputation for selling high-quality, fresh fish.

Clams should smell like the ocean and their shells should be closed. Tap any partially opened shells about the counter and if they don’t close then discard them. You want the clams to remain alive prior to cooking them so leave them exposed to the air so that they don’t smother. I usually place the bag in a bowl of ice with the top of the bag left open in the fridge.

Digging for Clams

About an hour or two before you plan to cook the clams remove them from the fridge and give each clam shell a scrub with a kitchen brush. Then, gently place the clams in a large bowl full of water. Let the clams soak in the water for about an hour. They will dispel any sand or grit that is in their shells. Gritty clams are the worst so be sure to do this step. You can read this informative article from Bon Appetit about clams if you want to learn more.

I love to serve Parmesan Garlic Clams with a salad, a crisp white wine, and crusty loaf bread.

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How to Make Parmesan Garlic Clams

Other seafood recipes that you may want to check out:

Parmesan Garlic Clams pin

 

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

I went through the first twenty-five years of my life thinking that I didn’t like beets. My only point of reference was the pickled beets that I encountered sliced up on salad bars. Those pickled beets just didn’t do it for me and never made their way to my plate.

Believe me when I tell you that back in the day, I knew a lot about salad bars. When I was in high school I worked at Burger King and back then BKs had salad bars where diners could make their own salads. I was the queen of that salad bar. I took pride in making sure that the salad bar looked fantastic when I was working. I would painstakingly arrange the kale (which was decorative in those days) around the containers of salad fixings. I would also make sure that the salad bar items were fresh and full and oh so tempting. I took it as a personal affront when people ordered hamburgers instead of a salad! But, I digress; let’s get back to this salad.

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

I can’t remember the exact moment when I first tried a roasted beet but it was well after my BK days. I just know that at some point I became a roasted beet fanatic. That discovery then led to me realize that I also love steamed beets, especially small beets. Their texture and flavor are well-suited to steaming.  In the notes section below you will find cooking directions for steaming, roasting, and microwaving beets. Yes, microwaving. Who knew? I tried the method listed below and it works well. But, I included all three methods because I wanted you to have a few options so you can pick your favorite cooking method.

Beets bring an earthy flavor and wonderful texture to salads. In this salad, I chose to use golden beets for a few reasons. Firstly, I prefer working with golden beets because my kitchen and I don’t end up looking like a crime scene which sometimes happens when working with red beets. Also, don’t the yellow beets look gorgeous with the orange segments and pieces of green pistachios? I can’t help it; I like my food to be colorful and coordinated.

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

Once your beets are cooked, this salad comes together in a snap. You could cook your beets ahead of time if you need to get dinner on the table quickly during the week or if you want to serve this salad as part of your menu for a dinner party.

The combination of the beets and beans gives this salad some heft making it a light and satisfying meal on its own. But, it can also be paired nicely with fish, chicken, or pork.

If you are a beet lover should also check out my recipe for beet gazpacho.

Golden Beet, White Bean, and Orange Salad

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