Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Goat Cheese, Roasted Garlic, and Tomato Croutes

Happy March to all!  I love this month because as it transitions from start to finish, we move from the last of cold weather, hearty food to lighter, fresher fare, as the first of spring's vegetables fill the shelves at the grocery store and the tables at the farmers' market.

Tonight, I'm taking a little trip in my kitchen to France, where this tasty toasted bread appetizer would be at home on any bistro menu.  Croute in French is actually the word for crust, but in culinary terms, typically refers to toasted bread slices topped with any manner of savory toppings.  This dish works great for a party appetizer; instead of assembling the croutes as instructed, you can invite guests to rub on the garlic themselves, and top their own bread slices with the vegan goat cheese and tomatoes. 

  • 1 whole garlic head
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 2 ounces prepared vegan goat cheese*
  • 12 (1/2-inch thick) toasted slices diagonally cut French bread baguette**
1. To start, remove the white papery skin from the garlic head, but do not peel or separate the cloves.  Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil.  Line a baking sheet with an additional piece of aluminum foil, and coat with cooking spray.  Cut each of the plum tomatoes into 4 wedges, and arrange the wedges in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Bake both the garlic and the tomatoes at 425 degrees for 40 minutes, turning the tomatoes halfway through cooking time.  Remove the tomatoes from the oven, and bake the garlic an additional 5 minutes.

2. Remove the garlic from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes, then separate the cloves and squeeze to extract the pulp; discard the skins.  Mash together the garlic pulp and goat cheese with a fork, until blended.

3. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the garlic mixture over each toast slice, and top each with 1 tomato wedge.

What to serve alongside your home bistro fare?  Pop open a bottle of vegan Cotes du Rhone, and try a quick vegan "coq au vin" - Gardein chicken simmered with mushrooms, carrots, red wine, and tomato paste.  Or, if it's just a casual night at home and you want a quick French supper on the table, try the Burgundy trio from Gardein.

*I prepared vegan goat cheese once before for this blog (see my recipe for Tomato Goat Cheese Strata), and am using pretty much the same recipe here, with the ingredient amounts adjusted slightly.  In a bowl, combine 2 ounces crumbled Sunergia feta, 1 tablespoon Tofutti cream cheese, 1 tablespoon Tofutti sour cream, and a splash of lemon juice; mix with a fork until blended.  Chill until ready to serve. 

**To quickly toast the baguette, I broiled the bread slices for 1 and 1/2 minutes on each side.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (2 croutes), Calories 135 

Tasting Notes:
Really delicious, with the bread toasted to perfection, really smooth creamy goat cheese, and just the right touch of garlic.  My only complaint is that the bright burst of flavor from the plum tomato overwhelmed the goat cheese/garlic a bit.  You might try offering two different varieties of croutes - one with the tomatoes on top and one without - so that the goat cheese mixture can shine through more.


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