This summer was my first ever actually keeping a basil plant alive for longer than a couple of days. And with him by my side, I have grown to be a little more creative with my basil uses. This recipe is not exactly a creative use of basil (with tomatoes, garlic, and lemon?), but it is a really really tasty one. I'm so partial to cherry tomatoes in this case because they are so dependable for flavor and sweetness. Although in the right months, heirloom tomatoes would be amazing and look even prettier.
PS: if you don't have time to make crostini or you're transferring this dish someplace without an oven, I think it would still be pretty delicious on un-toasted baguette.
Yields about 18-20 toasts
Cherry tomato mixture
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T champagne vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
¼ cup chiffonade basil, plus a bit more for garnish
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
6 oz feta cheese
8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
¼ tsp salt
Baguette, sliced into 18-20 ¼ inch thick rounds
Pinch of salt
First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Begin by assembling the tomato mixture. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic. Fold in the tomatoes and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge while you work on the other parts.
Using a stand mixer or handheld beaters, mix the feta cheese and cream cheese together for 30 seconds. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, and whip for a couple of minutes until light and smooth. Set aside.
Place baguette rounds on a cookie sheet and scatter with olive oil. Sprinkle with pinch of salt. Bake for about 4-5 minutes, watching closely to make sure they don’t get too crispy. I like the crostini to be golden but still chewy. Lo-Broil could work, but watch closely to not burn.
Spread a good amount of the creamed feta onto each crostini, and place the crostini onto your serving platter (I used a wood cutting board). Then, using a spoon and your hand, place a little pile of tomatoes onto each crostini. Sprinkle the crostini with extra basil and with an extra crack of pepper. Serve immediately!
The different parts to this dish can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for a few hours (pull the creamed feta to room temperature so it’s easy to spread), but I’d wait until the very end to construct the crostini.