This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MangiaTonight #CollectiveBias
We lived in Italy for two years, and one of the most surprising things I discovered was how they prepare their food. And, as you can imagine, over the course of those years, we never had a bad meal. Fast food and processed food just isn’t in their nature—sure, their pizzas come out ridiculous quick (because the ovens they use are fantastic), but most menus are limited to very seasonal and limited items. So what’s their secret? Why is authentic Italian food so gosh darn good?
Simplicity is their number one ingredient. They don’t pile on seven different toppings when three will do; the flavor comes from nature, because everything is fresh and either picked from the garden or bought from the local market earlier that week, and it’s all prepared when you order it—most of the cucinas (even in restaurants) are much smaller than the size of our residential kitchens here in America.
While eating out for every meal wasn’t realistic for us, we tried to maintain that simplicity when we cooked at home, and eating this Caprese on Crostini was a staple in our casa. Actually, we started eating this before we even moved there, tweaked it a little while we were in Italy, and we’ve continued to enjoy it now that we’re back again as well. Nowadays when we eat our Caprese on Crostini—either as a full meal or an accompaniment to a main dish, it always transports us back to our simpler and tastier Italian days when we’d eat it al fresco or on a lazy weekend afternoon.
We typically make our meal plan for the week before we’re navigating Kroger‘s aisles, but sometimes we have to tweak it once we’re there because we’ll see something that catches our eye, and nine times out of 10, we immediately move plans around for Caprese on Crostini. So last week, while surrounded standing in the produce section, I scratched “leftovers” off our meal for that evening and added in “Italian night.” I grabbed the essentials for our Caprese on Crostini, and then headed straight to the freezer section, because here’s a secret: sometimes I don’t make everything from scratch; sometimes I cheat, and I love it!
Caprese on Crostini is excellent as a meal itself, but when we have it for dinner we make a few less crostinis and pair the whole thing with a main dish. I grabbed a Bertolli frozen entree, because while it’s cooking away on the stove top, I can work on the other half of our meal.
Seriously, you will never regret having a frozen entree or two stashed away in the freezer for an “emergency meal” night, because they taste just like you actually worked hard at putting food on the table when all you actually did was pour the bag into a skillet and stirred it once or twice.
Caprese on Crostini
What you need:
1 loaf of good, rustic bread (sliced 1/2-inch thick)
1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil (if you have a garlic infused oil*, even better)
8-16 ounces of ciliegine mozzarella (the little balls)
handful or two of fresh basil leaves
2-3 good quality red tomatoes, sliced (not the big beefsteak kind, but the plump, ruby red, off-the-vine kind)
Balsamic glaze (you want the thick, delicious balsamic here)
How to make it:
Bake bread at 450-degrees in a single layer until they just start to turn golden brown. Flip and bake the other side until just before they turn golden brown—keep a close eye on them the second time; you want the top toasted, but not browned, because you’re going to put them back in the oven. Take bread out and brush it with olive oil, then put around 2-3 fresh ciliegine mozzarella balls on each crostini (smush and break up the balls so they’ll cover the bread). Bake for around 5-10 minutes or until completely melted and the cheese starts browning on top. Take out of the oven; let cool for a minute or so. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle balsamic glaze all over the cheese. Place some basil, then a tomato slice on top of the crostini; sprinkle a small pinch of salt on top of the tomato, and serve immediately. Mangia! (Eat!)
*Make your own roasted garlic infused oil quickly: unpeel a whole head of garlic (yes, the entire thing) and put it all in a small oven-safe dish. Cover garlic completely with EVOO and bake for around 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s finished with the garlic is very soft and you just can’t handle the delicious aroma another second. Very important: let cool before tasting it or you’ll burn the heck out of your mouth. Discard garlic (but not really…just move them aside and eat them on bread later), and save the oil to use later. It’s DELICIOUS with sauteed mushrooms, by the way, and with this recipe.
YUM. I’m seriously not kidding when I say that we eat this all the time, and just because I’ve been looking at these pictures over and over again, you better believe we’re having it again this weekend. Pair this whole meal with a nice crisp refreshing glass of some white wine from the Friuli region of Italia, and it’s like your practically in Italy!
You can find these delicious Bertolli entrees, at their lowest prices of the year, at a Kroger near you (while I was there I grabbed the Chicken Florentine and Farfalle, so it’s sitting in my freezer for the next time I have zero desire to cook)!