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Valentine’s Day Appetizer

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It’s nearly that time of year again, when almost all food is colored red and/or shaped like hearts. We’re no different here at Jolly Tomato – we’re happy to make heart-shaped food when the occasion calls for it – but we try to keep food colorings out of the picture whenever possible.

When the SoCal Lady Bloggers group invited us to join in a Valentine’s Day progressive dinner party, we happily signed up to serve an appetizer. What a great way to enjoy a meal and let everyone share in the cooking! We wanted to make something love-able, so we came up with two different kinds of Bruschetta Hearts.

Side note – In Italian, “bruschetta” is pronounced “bru-sket-ta” – the “sch” makes a “sk” sound. So if you want to sound like you are an authentic Italian when you’re describing your appetizer or ordering at a restaurant, make sure you ask for “bru-sket-ta.”

The most basic bruschetta involves toasted bread, garlic, and olive oil. If you want to get a little fancier, you can add more toppings like tomatoes and basil or roasted red peppers – or even something sweet, like oranges, which we’ll get to in a minute.

For our first version, we made a little Italian-style tomato mixture and added it to the toast with goat cheese. Although most bruschetta is served on crusty Italian bread, we made this first version with whole wheat bread, which gave it a nutty flavor.

Bruschetta Hearts with Tomato, Basil, and Goat Cheese

8 slices of whole wheat bread

2 ounces goat cheese, softened

2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the slices of bread using a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Arrange the bread hearts and toast them in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until light brown and crispy. Spread each toast heart with a thin layer of goat cheese. Next, in a small mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, basil leaves, and salt and pepper. Distribute tomato mixture evenly over each toast heart, spreading it to emphasize the heart shape. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

The second version we made was more of a Mexican-inspired treat, with a hot pink salsa made from red onions and blood oranges. We used some chili pepper tortillas (with a rich natural orange color) to boost the color and the spice.

Tortilla Hearts with Blood Orange/Red Onion Salsa

3 flour tortillas, preferably red or orange

3 blood oranges, peeled and chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, loosely chopped

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

With a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut heart shapes out of each of the tortillas (you should be able to get at least three out of each tortilla). Toast tortilla hearts until crispy. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stir, and refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, spread a small amount over each tortilla heart and serve immediately. Serves 8.

Kids cooking tip: It’s easy to involve kids with both of these recipes. Your pint-sized chefs can help with making the heart cut-outs, spreading the goat cheese, hand-tearing the basil or cilantro, and stirring and spreading the tomato or orange mixtures.

What’s next on the progressive dinner menu? Check out this Sweetheart Salad from Amy at Baby Baby Lemon.

And of course don’t miss any of the other courses:

Sparkling Pomegranate Jubilee from Someday I’ll Learn

Strawberry Bruschetta from The Wonder Years

Steakhouse Steaks for Two from The Gonzo Gourmet

Creamy Chicken Florentine from Sarcastic, Funny, and Brutally Honest

Baked Mini Cheesecakes from Create-Celebrate-Explore

White Chocolate Creme Brulee from This Talk Ain’t Cheap

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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14 Responses to Valentine’s Day Appetizer

  1. Jamie February 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    I love brushetta!!!! Looks good and tasty

    • jollytomato February 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Thanks, Jamie!

  2. Amy {babybabylemon} February 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Love the tortilla hearts. So cute!

    • jollytomato February 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Amy!

  3. Carolyn West February 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    You had me at bruschetta… but add the goat cheese and I’m in heaven. All my favorite food in one bite. I’m in. Pretty sure I’m going to make this on Sunday for Superbowl. My mouth is watering.

    • jollytomato February 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

      LOL – Thanks, Carolyn! This was fun!

  4. Tonya Staab February 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    What sweet little hearts and such a great idea for a Valentine’s Day spin on such a yummy appetizer.

    • jollytomato February 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Tonya!

  5. Blogdad February 10, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    I have made some bruschetta that has gotten rave reviews: the secret is/are (one of?) the following
    Plum tomatoes with the centers scooped out

    Garlic in olive oil that is cooked at low temp in the toaster oven for about 10 min

    Lemon juice

    minced roasted red pepper

    Cooking takes the bitterness out of the garlic (you knew that) and enrches the oil

    red peppers add sweetness, lemon juice gives tanginess

    Gutting the tomatoes reduces the liquid ( and seeds)

    These are mixed together with the usual suspects- a bit of salt, ground black pepper, minced parsley, perhaps a bit of fresh basil, etc. Enjoy!

    • jollytomato February 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

      Thanks, Blogdad! <3

  6. Cathy February 11, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    These are delicious! I made them for Valentine Bunco last night and everyone loved them and asked how to make them. I agree with Blogdad that the tomatoes should be seeded to reduce the liquidity. I will definitely make them again


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