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 use natural food colorings 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.
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.
Happy Valentine’s Day!