I wish I had a garden. My Facebook news feed has been filled with lovely pictures of fresh tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and herbs from friends and I'm aching to get in on the gardening action! Unfortunately my experience with growing things is very limited, due to spending the last 6 years of my life in apartments with little to no porch sunlight and the sweltering hot Texas weather. This apartment in Nebraska isn't much better- our porch gets zero direct sunlight here. Kudos to all of you who are putting the time and effort into growing your own food - I hope the fruits of your labor will be abundant this year!
Watch this quick video to see how I make homemade pesto:
The recipe I'm sharing with you today is nothing short of garden fresh - grape tomatoes, basil, baby spinach, garlic, lemons....all items that I've seen growing in gardens the past month. This is one of those dishes that tastes like pure summer - it's so fresh and flavorful that as I was eating, I couldn't help but roll my eyes and marvel at how good it was with every bite. And don't even get me started on the smell that filled my apartment as I slow-roasted these tomatoes in my oven for 6 (yes, 6!) hours and then proceeded to whip up a batch of fresh basil pesto. It was almost too much to handle...my mouth was watering ALL day.
If you have access to any of the above ingredients, please make this dish right away! Use the best ingredients you can possibly find and you might just discover one of the best things to ever come out of your kitchen. Good quality olive oil and balsamic syrup are a must. Fresh, crusty bakery bread is imperative. And please, don't skip out on using freshly-grated Parmesan in your pesto! This light and healthy bruschetta will be your new favorite side dish, appetizer, snack, and party dish for the rest of the summer. Enjoy!
Basil Pesto and Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
Homemade Basil Pesto or store-bought pesto
Slow Roasted Tomatoes:
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Fresh crusty bread I recommend ciabatta, French, sourdough, or a whole grain baguette, sliced into ½'' thick slices.
For the slow-roasted tomatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place washed tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle oil, salt and pepper on tomatoes and toss to coat. Roast for 6 hours, tossing the tomatoes on pan every 2 hours.
For the balsamic syrup:
- Place balsamic vinegar and honey in a small sauce pan and whisk to combine. Heat the mixture on medium heat till it starts to simmer. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is reduced by half. It will look thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and transfer to storage container when done.
For the bread:
- Add 1 teaspoon butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil to a skillet on medium heat. Toast the bread in the skillet for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy. Alternatively, you can toast the bread on a sheet pan in the oven, but I prefer the skillet method for flavor and texture!
- Spread toasted bread slices with pesto, top with roasted tomatoes and a drizzle of the balsamic syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature.
2. Balsamic syrup will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 weeks. Drizzle on ice cream, fruit, salads, or use as a dip for bread.
3. Basil pesto will keep in a an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place plastic wrap on the surface of pesto to avoid discoloration. Use leftover pesto on chicken, grilled meats, sandwiches, pizza, salads, and eggs!