October 2, 2011


When I first met Justin, he was with two of his co-workers down in the complex pool. They are all Ph.D. students interning at the university where I teach, and since we're all from different parts of the country and only know each other, we talked about getting together once a week for dinner and socializing.

The first week's dinner was at Adam's - he made quinoa with peanut sauce and veggies. He also made us all juice with his fancy new juice machine he bought after seeing that juice documentary that everyone's going nuts over these days. For dessert, Justin made a mixed berry cobbler.

The next week was at Justin's - he made Indian chickpea curry with roti and a cucumber yogurt salad. All our meals need to be meat-free since Minal is vegetarian, and as we ate the salad, we learned that the newly added fifth member of our group, Kristin (another woman who lives in the complex and works at the university), is a vegan (but socially vegetarian), so we're going to try to be as vegan-friendly as possible in the future. It's a fun and healthy challenge.

And so this past week, it was my turn. I made three kinds of ravioli - pumpkin/hazelnut/feta, beet/pear/feta, and spinach/mushroom/garlic:

Mostly the spinach/mushroom/garlic ones since they were vegan, and instead of using my own homemade pasta, I bought vegan wonton wrappers - they were not only vegan, but they saved time as I got ready for everything else. I also made a vegan chocolate cake with ginger and cinnamon (my own recipe, with the spices inspired by an Italian film I love called - wait for it - "Ginger and Cinnamon.").

Justin asked me earlier in the day if he could make salsa for an appetizer - he has a Slap Chop and has therefore been looking for any excuse to cut things into small pieces. It didn't go with my Italian theme, but it wasn't a bad idea. So, we had bruschetta.

Bruschetta is an Italian tomato and basil salad, served cold with pieces of toasted bread. It's a very simple appetizer, and could easily be eaten as a light lunch.

The good news is, it's incredibly delicious.

The bad news is, it got gobbled up before I could get a picture of the salad.

I did get pictures of the toasts before I prepped them and as they went into the oven, though!

5 plum tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 French loaf, sliced into rounds
Combine two minced garlic cloves with about a quarter of the chopped basil and 3 tablespoons of olive oil; set aside. Chop tomatoes and combine with remaining basil. Add balsamic vinegar. In a small skillet, heat remaining olive oil and brown remaining minced garlic. Add to tomato mixture; gently stir to ensure consistent coating. Refrigerate for several hours to let flavors mix well.

Ten minutes before serving, lightly brush one side of the French bread rounds with olive oil/garlic/basil mixture (you will likely not use all of it) and bake them for 8-10 minutes in a preheated 400º F oven.

You should not pre-assemble the bruschetta so the toasts don't get soggy. (Unless that's what you're into. Then, by all means, top away!)

It's a very summer-y dish, but since the temperatures are still in the 80 and 90º range here, no one seemed to mind. Like I said, it disappeared before I could even get a picture! I'll definitely be making it again - though I'm not sure I have a choice in that, it was their request!

What about you? What are your favorite dinner party appetizers?


Jessica said...


Tim said...

I always have bruschetta if i'm out at an Italian restaurant. No wonder you didn't have time to take a picture. It's so delicious!

Recently i've been slicing up mozzarella and putting them on top of sliced tomato and adding a tiny bit of pesto sauce to give it some flavour. It's delicious. It looks kinda like this:


It's very yummy!!

SkippyMom said...

Spinach artichoke dip - but it can't be made vegan the way I like it because I like it with parmasan cheese.

I like our bruscetta with cheese too. Some nights we just have all appetizers for dinner instead of a meal. The kids really like it.

timothy said...

sounds like a fun group and wonderful food...........and the slap chop LMFAO my grandmother had one that was glass and 40 years old when i was a kid for chopping onions! i LOVE that everyone thinks it's a "new" idea just cause some boob on tv says so.

Tammy said...

Read my last post on my blog...then you will feel better about yourself.:)

Poison said...

I recently had bruschetta for the first time and it was delicious!!!

As for the rest of your blog. I have been super busy but jsut spent the last few minutes readnig like your last 6 posts i missed out on and finally catching up on how chicago and all that went.

I have to say that i love how honest and awesome you have been and its what makes me not want to skip a single post you make or even just skim. i have to read the whole thing! lol. I would have been offended by that comment that was made to you as well for the same reason. I sometimes worry I get perceived as trampy even though I am not sleeping around near as much as I feel like it sounds I am. lol. And with my weightloss I have recently gotten back into dating again too so i have all sorts of mixed feelings about sooo many different guys in my life right now. So i refuse to even commit to just one guy, because I can't. lol. I'm not sleeping with all of them, but I am talking to several different guys right now who are very interested in me and I'm just taking my time and focusing more on me and if they fit into the picture later then great. If not... oh well I guess. Anyways what im trying to say is i totally feel you on the confusion and I knew something was up with Justin. and dammit i wish you'd just spill already! lol. :D

and i totally have the slapchop song stuck in my head now.

Nicky @ Eat, Run, Read said...

Yum! I never would have thought to use the vegan wrappers--great idea!