Summery Dinner with Bruschetta and Watermelon Salad

Recently, Jon and I had some friends over for dinner. Since it was a hot summer evening, making something that didn’t involve the oven or stove being on for hours seemed like a good idea. Still feeling inspired by our recent Italian adventure (I will finish writing about it!), I decided to make bruschetta with two toppings and a watermelon salad.

The first bruschetta topping was made from tomatoes and basil that came fresh from the farmers market, along with garlic, olive oil, and salt. So easy, but so yummy.

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The second bruschetta topping was made from cannellini beans, and included onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and of course, olive oil. It was inspired by a recipe in Gina Stipo’s Ecco la Cucina. It’s not exactly the most photogenic dish, but it definitely tastes good!

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Finally, I decided to add a summery watermelon salad to balance out all the bread I knew we would be eating. The salad includes feta (real cheese, hence the “mostly” vegan), parsley, mint, and pepper, with a dressing made from red onions, lime juice, and olive oil.

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With Jon, Liz, and Arushi helping to oil and grill the bread, it was a fun and easy dinner!

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Bruschetta with Tomatoes

3 large tomatoes (not Roma; use heirloom or other flavorful tomatoes)
4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
Bunch of fresh basil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Crusty bread, brushed with olive oil and grilled

Chop the large tomatoes, discarding of loose seeds and extra liquid. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half (thirds, if larger). Place all the tomatoes into a bowl

Julienne the basil, and add to the chopped tomatoes. Add 3-4 Tbsp olive oil and the garlic, then salt and pepper to taste. Allow the flavors to meld together at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

While the tomatoes are resting, slice the bread. Brush each side with olive oil. Grill the bread on each side until there are nice grill marks.

Taste the tomato mixture and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve family style with a platter of bread and the bowl of tomatoes, allowing everyone to top their own bruschetta. Make sure you have lots of napkins available, as it can be a little messy!

White Bean Hummus

Inspired by Gina Stipo’s Crostini con Cannellini in Ecco la Cucina

1/2 onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups cooked cannellini beans (drain and rinse if using canned)
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary, chopped
1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
4 Tbsp olive oil, plus more
Salt

Sauté the onion and garlic with a little salt in olive oil until softened. Add the cannellini beans, thyme, and rosemary, and cook for several minutes.

Mash the beans with a fork, then add the olive oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar, and mix together. You can add more olive oil to make a smoother hummus. Taste, and add salt if needed. If you want to add a little sharpness, add the rest of the vinegar.

Serve on grilled bread that has been brushed with olive oil. Drizzle with very good olive oil just before serving.

Watermelon Feta Salad
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer

8-10 cups diced watermelon
6 ounces crumbled feta
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 3 limes
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/4 parsley, chopped
4 Tbsp olive oil
Pepper to taste

Put the onion slices in the lime juice and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, except for the olive oil.

Add the onions and the lime juice, along with the olive oil. Mix all the ingredients together, and season with pepper, if desired.

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Spring Bruschetta

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Despite the snow and cold temperatures this week, it still feels like spring! I love bruschetta during the summer, and decided to make this spring version of it with homemade bread and a lemon pea spread.

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I started off by mixing up the bread dough with whole wheat pastry and regular flour, yeast, water, salt, and a little olive oil. The bread had to rise for a while, of course. After it was risen, I shaped it into a nice round loaf, sprinkled it with sea salt, and then put it in the oven to bake.

While the bread was baking, I started off the pea spread. Peas, fresh parsley, garlic, olive oil, and water all went into a pot to boil for just a few minutes. Once the peas were cooked, I put them into my Cuisinart to blend together. I added a little more olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt, and a little bit of the cooking liquid, then blended it until the peas were roughly mashed but not completely puréed.

The pea spread went into a serving bowl, and was finished with some Aleppo pepper and a little more lemon juice.

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After the bread was cool, it was time to grill it. Watching bread cool is about as exciting as waiting for water to boil…. I sliced up the bread, brushed each piece with olive oil, and then grilled the bread in my panini grill. Yum…grilled bread!

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After the bread was grilled, it was ready for the lemon pea spread which I finished with a little more Aleppo pepper sprinkled on top. It was lemony and tasted just like spring!

Lemon Pea Spread for Spring Bruschetta

16 ounce peas (fresh or frozen)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Additional lemon juice
1 bunch of fresh parsley
2 tsp Aleppo pepper
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt (large, flaky crystal – I used Celtic sea salt)
Round loaf of homemade bread (store bought is ok if you’re not up for making homemade bread!)

Place the peas, parsley leaves, garlic, and 2 Tbsp olive oil in a pot. Add enough water to cover the peas, and some sea salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until the peas are bright green.

Drain the peas, making sure to save the cooking liquid. Put the pea mixture, lemon zest and juice, Aleppo pepper, and the rest of the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until just blended and the peas are mashed but not puréed. Add enough of the cooking liquid to make a spreadable topping.

Serve on grilled bread and sprinkled with Aleppo pepper. Enjoy on a sunny (or snowy) spring day.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

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