There's something simply pleasing about an open-faced sandwich. When a sandwich is open, its filling becomes the topping, which is a lovely reflection of the sum of its parts and a visual tease, beckoning a bite. While the sandwiches will vary, often these tasty bites creatively incorporate simple ingredients or leftovers layered over a smear of olive oil or soft cheese on sturdy or day-old bread refreshed on the grill or in the oven. The presentation is fresh, minimal and artful, with a few leaves or sprigs for garnish.
This bruschetta includes fresh ricotta topped with roasted beets and a spoonful of garden pesto. I call it a garden pesto because I use handfuls of the fresh herbs that have popped up in my garden. When the garden isn't ready, I simply combine the supermarket herbs I've collected in my refrigerator. This can include any combination of parsley, mint, chives, dill, chervil, basil and oregano. The idea is that there is a mix of herbs, so that one flavor doesn't overwhelm the others. The result is a brightly green and herbaceous coulis that is delicious served with vegetables, fish, chicken, or mixed with rice and pasta. In this case, it's a vibrant garnish to this bruschetta.
Ricotta Beet Bruschetta With Garden Pesto
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: makes 6 servings
3 cups (packed) fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint, dill, chives, chervil, plus extra for garnish
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 slices ciabatta or levain bread, each about 1/2 inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed for toasting the bread
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
6 to 8 roasted and peeled baby beets, cut into wedges
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the pesto: Place the herbs and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped. With the processor running, add the oil in a steady stream until blended. If too thick, add extra oil to your desired consistency. Add the lemon zest, salt and pepper; pulse once or twice to blend. Taste for seasoning.
Heat the oven broiler or a grill. Lightly brush the bread slices with oil. Broil or grill until toasted golden on both sides but still tender in the center, about 2 minutes. Remove and cool the bread for 5 minutes.
Smear the ricotta on the bread, then drizzle some of the pesto over the ricotta. (You will not use all of the pesto. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for another use for up to one day.)
Top the bruschetta with the beets. Brush the beets with a little oil and lightly season the bruschetta with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs and serve whole or cut in half for smaller bites.
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