I am not a vegetarian, yet I find myself increasingly surrounded by them. Every food I gravitate to has to have meat in it, otherwise I have this idea that I will not feel satisfied at the end of a meal. Salad vs. Duck Confit? Tell you what, you eat your salad. Enjoy. I’ll be digging into the duck and its delicious fat that it cooked in.
This weekend I was called to an event where I was to bring a little finger-food to share. Some of my friends who were also attending are staunch vegetarians and, as much as I hate to give up eating meat, what bothers me more is knowing someone is going hungry. As a bona fide food lover, I could not, in good conscience, make something that would leave people out.
This left me to search for an appetizer that was appealing to vegetarians, yet had the weight any carnivore would love. I went with a recipe on the epicurious website. Sure, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes are a bit on the expected side for an appetizer, but I was willing to risk giving any foodie in the house a sense of “ho hum” because, as I have found, most foodie recipes scare the crap out of the average eater. I decided on a “Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Tartine” with the expectation that anyone with half a developed taste bud would eat it and be pleased. If I was serving to a foodie crowd, I would have tried going with something a little more unpredictable, but since I had no idea who my audience was, I went with safe and savory.
Photo courtesy of epicurious
The end result is something that I would deem “very nice” on the food scale. It didn’t rock my socks off (mostly because it’s the expected goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes appetizer), but on the other hand it’s goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes! The goat cheese is sprinkled with salt and pepper and softened in the oven — my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I will be making this again. If I was going to an appetizer party but could only bring one appetizer, I would probably go with something else because I would want to zing people and be the belle of the kitchen. If I could bring multiple appetizers, then I would definitely include this one. It would also be great as a beginning course. It’s fast to prepare, looks stunning, doesn’t create a huge mess in the kitchen, and some of it you can prepare ahead. Lovers of goat cheese will elbow people out of the way to get more. I say this after watching my friends jump back toward the buffet table and fight over the last couple tartines as if they were deep in a mosh pit.
Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Tartine
12 – 20 (1/2-inch-thick) baguette slices
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium tomato, peeled , seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons julienned soft sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 tablespoon torn fresh basil
1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar (I used a Chianti vinegar)
2 tablespoons bottled black olive tapenade
8 oz soft mild goat cheese log, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
There’s not much to it. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Line your baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Take your baguette (sourdough would rock, but plain is fine), slice it in 1/2″ slices and lay them on the baking sheet. With a pastry brush, put a little bit of olive oil on each baguette slice, top side only. Bake that in the oven for 7 minutes – you just want to toast the tops a bit. If you put too much olive oil on (like I did) keep them in for another two minutes.
Take them out of the oven, but leave the oven on.
On top of each baguette slide, spread a nice, even layer of olive tapenade. Don’t glop it, but you do want it thick enough that the goat cheese is held down onto the tartine.
Speaking of the goat cheese, that’s next. Take a thin slice and place it on top of the olive layer.
In a bowl, mix up the last tablespoon of olive oil, fresh basil, vinegar (the recipe calls for Sherry vinegar, but I used chianti and it was fine), sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh tomatoes. In regards to the fresh tomatoes, don’t use beefsteak. At least use something that tastes good, like tomatoes on the vine or something yummy. Beefsteak just doesn’t give enough flavor and, since you aren’t really putting much seasoning into this, you’ll want to make sure your ingredients have a lot of flavor. Mix it up, and put a little teaspoon on top of your goat cheese slice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
The recipe calls for drizzling with more olive oil before sending it back to the oven, but it doesn’t need it. I didn’t add any more oil because, good grief, there is already enough oil involved at this point. Olive oil is not as healthy as people believe it to be. Trust me, you’ll be better off without adding more.
Bake in the oven until the cheese is softened, about 5 – 7 minutes.
I got up at 6:30am to get this taken care of, and I had it all wrapped up in under a half hour.
Here’s the end result as I took it out of the oven:
Definitely worth trying.