Appetizers

Yellow Pear Tomato Bruschetta

Serves four

I knew my friends were coming over to with yellow pear tomatoes.  I had been thinking about what I would do with these tasty little treats, and I decided on a simple bruschetta.

These tomatoes are low in acid, so my original idea of combining them with feta cheese wouldn’t work, because the cheese would overpower the tomatoes.  Instead I used very thin slices of fresh mozzarella. Perfect!

The purple basil you see in the photo was meant to be added to the tomatoes and eaten.  I picked up a bunch the farmer’s market, and when I got home, I tasted a few leaves.  They were somewhat bitter and not to my liking, so I used them as a decoration instead.  Nice color contrast.

1 cup yellow pear tomatoes, sliced in half

6 thin slices of fresh mozzarella, cut to fit the bread

6 1/2 inch thick slices of day old whole grain baguette

1-2 large garlic cloves

3 tb olive oil

3 tb balsamic vinegar

5 green basil leaves, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper in bowl.  Mix well.  Cover and allow flavors to blend for 1 hour.

Heat grill.  Rub garlic clove on both sides of bread slices.  Grill both sides until toasted.

Place mozzarella on each bread slice.  Spoon tomato mixture on each, and serve.

Zucchini-Corn Quesadillas

makes two quesadillas

3 tb. vegetable oil

1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)

6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

2 medium zucchini cut into 1/2 inch cubes (2 cups)

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Roasted Corn

1/2 cup cooked black beans

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 tb. lime juice

chili powder for sprinkling

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, optional

4 Lo-Card Wheat Wrap-itz Tortillas (only five carbs per tortilla.  Muy Bueno!)

Directions

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, and saute 7 minutes.  Add zucchini and corn, and saute 7 minutes more.  Stir in cilantro and lime juice.

Heat pan/grill.  Spray cooking oil lightly on tortilla and place in pan/on grill.

Spoon one cup of zucchini-corn filling onto tortilla, add cheese.  Top with second tortilla. Spray top tortilla lightly with cooking spray (do not spray directly into flame). Cook for 2-3 minutes. Using spatula, turn gently.  Cook additional 2-3 minutes, or until cheese melts.

Cut into quarters and enjoy.

Crostini with Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onions and Fig Jam

I made this appetizer several years ago for some friends who really loved them.  When they were over recently, they asked for the recipe. Makes 12 servings of 2 crostini each.

1 jar fig jam/preserves

2 cups yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup (4 oz) Gorgonzola cheese, softened

24 (1 inch thick) slices diagonally cut whole grain baguette, toasted

1 tsp chopped fresh parsley

Heat non stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.  Add onion, balsamic vinegar, thyme, and salt, cover and cook 5 minutes. Uncover and cook 20 minutes until onion is deep golden brown, stirring occasionally.  While onion cooks, add 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, in order to keep onion from sticking.

Spread 1 tsp Gorgonzola cheese over each baguette slice.  Top each slice with about one tsp caramelized onion and 1 tsp  jam.  Sprinkle chopped parsley over each.  Enjoy.

Grilled Polenta with Red Pepper Spread

This makes a quick and delicious appetizer.  I used already pre-cooked organic Polenta.  The Red Pepper Spread includes eggplant and garlic.  Makes 6-8.

1 18 oz tube Trader Joe’s Polenta (at my store, it’s on the shelf near the pasta)

1 12 oz. jar Trader Joe’s Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic

Remove polenta from tube.  Cut polenta into 3/4 inch disks.

Heat grill

Spray both sides of polenta disks with cooking spray (I used Mazola)

Place polenta on grill, and cook 2 minutes each side, or until it is cooked through and grill marks are visible.

Before removing from grill, top one side of polenta with 1 teaspoon of the red pepper spread.  Cook for one minute, then remove from grill.

Can be served at room temperature.

Walnut-Mushroom Pate

I made this to share with some friends this Easter.  Serve it warm with toasted bread.  We paired it with  Clos de los Siete, an Argentinian red produced by Michel Rolland.

3 tb olive oil

1 cup diced yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 tp dried thyme

1 tp dried tarragon

3/4 teaspoon salt

ground pepper

1 pound cremini mushrooms, chopped

1 cup lightly toasted walnuts

3/4 cup canned cannellini beans (without liquid)

2 tp  basalmic vinegar

2 tp madeira dry wine

1/4 cup vegetable broth

Heat two tb of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and saute for 3-5 minutes until translucent, then add garlic, thyme, tarragon, salt and pepper, and cook for another minute.

Add mushrooms and cook 7-10 minutes, until they are soft.  Lower heat, if necessary to avoid burning.

While mushroom mixture is cooking, place the walnuts in a food processor and process until very fine.

Add the cooked mushroom mixture to the walnuts in the food processor, along with the basalmic vinegar, madeira, beans and remaining tablespoon of the olive oil.  Process until smooth, adding vegetable broth one tablespoon at a time as needed.

Continue to puree the ingredients until the pate resembles a smooth, thick and spreadable paste.  Place mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving, to allow flavors to meld.

Although this pate can be served at room temperature, I prefer it warm.  If you want to try it this way, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put pate in an ovenproof dish, covered,  and place in oven for about twenty minutes, or until heated through.

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