I was invited to create an original recipe using Hunt’s canned tomatoes. My husband and I aren’t big fans of chunky tomatoes, so I decided to combine the best parts of some of my favorite appetizers to make something a little different. The tomato paste makes a nice, easy, and inexpensive substitute to sundried tomatoes in the pesto and there is plenty of room to make substitutions with your favorite ingredients. In fact, next time I try this, I’ll top it with Feta cheese crumbles.
I’m also supposed to dedicate this recipe to someone. I’m going to dedicate it to two people. First, my mom. She can’t have a lot of sodium, so she inspired me to cut the sodium where possible in the recipe. The second is Big Guy. He’s as picky as can be, so I’m always looking for ways to get a vegetable into him. He ate a piece (once the cheese was melted), so that’s a point for me!
Now, admittedly, this particular recipe isn’t the healthiest option out there, but you can use the pesto in lots of different ways which is an extra bonus in my book. There is a great article in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine entitled Tomato Consumption and Health: Emerging Benefits. It explains that tomatoes can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, some forms of cancer, and more. This is largely due to the antioxidant lycopene, which is more readily available to your body once the tomatoes have been processed. We always have canned tomato products in our house so we can quickly make chili and a variety of tomato-based sauces. If you’re curious about why tomatoes have a “super food” status, you can check out this webinar from ConAgra Foods.
What’s your favorite tomato recipe?
Tomato-Basil Pesto Bruschetta
- 3T Hunt’s Tomato Paste
- 1 1/2 C loosely packed fresh basil
- 1/2 C grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese. Substitute a less-salty hard cheese if sodium is a concern.
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 C olive oil (1/3 C if you add pine nuts)
- 1/2 C pine nuts (optional)
- 6-8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, sliced
- A fresh baguette
- Olive oil for brushing on bread
I chose to work with the “No Salt Added” variety of Hunt’s Tomato Paste (many of their products have a no salt version). There is also no salt added to the pesto. The grated cheese adds plenty of salt for me, but you can also season to taste.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
Add the olive oil to the food processor. I use my immersion blender with chopping attachment.
If you’re adding pine nuts, add them now. Pulse until chopped. This will keep you from blending the rest of the ingredients to a paste later. I skipped the pine nuts this time around because they aren’t safe for Bug’s food allergies. I’ll save them for another dish!
Mince the garlic. Add it to the food processor.
Mmm. Fresh basil. Tear off the stems with your hands and place in a food processor. If you have time and want to do things “right,” you can finely chop the basil with a very sharp blade. I don’t, so I didn’t.
Pulse the ingredients until just chopped. Ideally, you should be able to see each of the ingredients in the pesto.
Add the tomato paste and gently stir it in.
Add the grated cheese and gently stir that in.
Voila! Have a taste (or two), and season if needed. You can stop at this point and enjoy the pesto on bread or crackers, in pasta, on a pizza shell, or tuck it aside for company. Or you can go on to make a delicious appetizer to share with friends.
Slice your baguette roughly 1/2-1” thick. You’re supposed to cut it diagonally, but I didn’t. And some of my slices were thicker than they were supposed to be. Guess what? They still tasted great!
Brush one side of each slice with olive oil and place those oil-side down on a baking sheet. I would normally use one of my Silpats, but they were otherwise occupied. The foil made clean-up easy and gave me something to wrap leftovers in.
Place in oven and bake for 4-5 minutes, or until lightly toasted. You can decide here if you prefer crispy bruschetta, or if you want to retail some of the chewiness in the bread.
Remove the bread from the oven and add a layer of pesto on each slice.
Top with a mozzarella slice and enjoy!
Alternatively, if you, like my husband, prefer your cheese warm, pop these back in the oven until the cheese starts to melt. Just as yummy.
Disclosure: I received compensation from The Motherhood and Hunt’s Tomatoes to create and share a unique recipe.