Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Dinner - Vegetable Crostini

We had a wonderful Valentine's Dinner tonight. I ended up making this tasty grilled vegetable crostini for our appetizer and then we had a wonderful Sea Bass for our main course. Tonight I wanted to tell you about this appetizer and I'll post the Sea Bass recipe another time. The crostini was took a few steps, but it was worth it. The grilled bread was so crunchy and delicious and a great backdrop for the tender, slightly sweet, grilled veggies. I really like the idea of this also, since you do all the work ahead of time and then let it marinate at the end. That means you can work on something else and not worry about your appetizer until just before serving. It worked out great. We'll be having this again.

Grilled Veggie Crostini
adapted from "Simple Pleasures" by Alfred Portale
1 red pepper
1 Japanese eggplant (you could substitute zucchini or regular eggplant if necessary)
1 large red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
2 t red wine vinegar
1 t dried oregano
2 basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
8 ounces fresh bufala mozzarella (much creamier than normal mozzarella)
ciabatta bread (sliced 1/2 inch thick)

Drizzle red pepper with olive oil and place under broiler until blackened all around. Take out of oven and place in a paper bag for 5 minutes. Take pepper out of bag, peel outer skin off, take seeds out, and slice into 5-6 long sections. While that is happening, slice onion into 5-6 thick slices and cut eggplant on the diagonal into 1/4 inch pieces. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, grill until tender, 4-5 minutes. Remove.
In a bowl combine garlic, oregano, 1/4 cup oil, salt, and pepper. Pour marinade over vegetables and let them sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Just before serving, brush bread with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until toasted and crisp. Place warm bread on a platter. Layer with cheese (sliced about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick) vegetables, and basil. Drizzle with extra marinade if desired.

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