Home Grown Chef: Tomato Canapes

I’ll admit that when someone says, “Let’s get together. My house. Friday,” part of the draw is the wine. It’s true. Almost as equally alluring are the appetizers. I am fortunate to be surrounded by friends who know how to fill a counter with all kinds of scrumptious tidbits. One friend always treats us to bowls of soup—spicy vegetarian, curried pumpkin—and plates of salad with roasted veggies with quinoa, chickpea and feta. Another friend does vegetables, fruit, dips, cheeses and spreads that we layer to create our own tasty bites.

A few years ago, this friend laid out thick slices of heirloom tomatoes onto which we layered caramelized onions, crumbled blue cheese, toasted pecans and fresh herbs. The combination is an unforgettable flavor medley. I thought it was brilliant to use a slice of tomato as the base instead of bread or crackers. Since that time, I have taken the idea and run with it.

Here is the recipe for tomato canapés with basil chimchurri, but the layering combinations are endless. I recommend using tomatoes with minimal seeds such as Oregon star, Roma or the large heirloom tomatoes in a variety of colors. And yes, these pair quite nicely with a cold, crisp white wine.

Tomato Canapes

with Basil Chimichurri

Chimichurri is the Argentinian version of pesto. Made without nuts or cheese, it has a fresh taste with a bit of a bite. It is fabulous on grilled steak or chicken, and makes a stellar dip for sliced avocadoes.

2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup fresh parsley
½ cup fresh basil leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ cup high quality olive oil
Fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced, or goat cheese
Fresh tomatoes, thickly sliced

In a food processor or blender, mince garlic cloves. Add parsley, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and vinegar. Process until herbs are finely chopped. With motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through feed tube. Allow sauce to sit for at least one hour before using. Can also be stored in the fridge for up to a week. On each tomato slice, place a slice of mozzarella or spread on goat cheese. Drizzle the basil chimichurri on top.

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