Bruschetta is one of my favourite appetizers to serve this time of year when tomatoes are at their prime and in abundance at every farmers market and grocery store. This is when I can truly appreciate the vegetable vs fruit debate, a perfectly ripe tomato is juicy and sweet in flavour and has a wonderful fragrance similar to other fruits. A ripe tomato tastes so good, that keeping a recipe as simple as possible is key to really showcasing their flavour.
This is a delicious, healthy spin on traditional bruschetta. In place of the crunchy toasted bread, I used thick slices of eggplant that are brushed with garlic, herbs and oil and then grilled until tender. Try and use eggplants that are long and thin in diameter, and cut the slices quite thick, this will ensure that the bases are sturdy and can easily be picked up and eaten with your hands.
The warm grilled eggplant is then topped with a dairy free “cheese” that has the same consistency as cream cheese and is flavoured with lots of freshly chopped basil. If you have a nut allergy, you can skip this layer, but I highly recommend adding it as the deliciously smooth “cheese” is a nice surprise hidden under the tomatoes.
The final layer is chopped cherry tomatoes which have been tossed in olive oil, garlic and basil, simple but so good. There is already a lot of garlic in this dish so you can skip adding it to the tomatoes if you have a hot date planned for later in the day. I like to heap as many tomatoes as I can on top of the eggplant, and the “cheese” helps hold them in place so that the bruschetta rounds can be easily picked up.
I usually serve this bruschetta as an appetizer, but it would also make a great side dish. This is a recipe that any meat and bread loving person will really enjoy so I wouldn’t hesitate to serve it to a crowd without having to give the “it’s healthy” disclaimer.
Although best enjoyed during the summer months, if you find good tomatoes in the winter, you can still make it by cooking the eggplant in the oven rather then on the grill. I made and assembled these bruschetta 2 days ago and can happily report that the leftovers I am happily now taste exactly the same as the day I made them. Eggplant bruschetta for the win!
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes (red, orange and/or yellow)
- ¼ cup shredded basil leaves
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ½ cup cashews, soaked overnight
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tbsp coconut oil
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1-2 tbsp almond milk
- 10- 12 basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 eggplants, preferably long and skinny
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp chopped thyme
- ½ tsp chopped oregano
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Wash the tomatoes and cut them into small chunks. Place in a bowl and toss with olive oil, shredded basil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.
- In a food processor combine the cashews, lemon juice, coconut oil, garlic and 1 tbsp of the almond milk and blend. If the mixture has trouble blending and is not smooth then add the second tbsp of almond milk and continue to blend until creamy. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chopped basil.
- Heat a gril (or sandwich press)
- Cut the eggplant into slices approximately 2cm in thickness. In a bowl stir together the olive oil, crushed garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Brush each of the eggplant with the oil mixture and then grill for approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side until tender and slightly charred.
- To assemble the bruschetta lay the warm eggplant out on a tray and spread the basil cheese evenly over each slice before topping with the tomatoes. Enjoy!