Balsamic Onion Bruschetta with Roasted Red Peppers and Basil
These appetizers are crowd pleasers, even for the skeptical. A perfect balance of tangy, savory and fresh tastes will have you and your guests reaching for more. You’ll make three separate components to assemble before serving. I recommend making the red pepper-basil topping a few hours ahead of time on the same day of serving. The extra is delicious in an omelet with a bit of goat cheese. The balsamic onion mixture and the crostini freezes well and can be made in larger quantities to have on hand.
Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
For the balsamic-onion mixture:
4 large (about 8 cups) yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the red pepper-basil mixture:
1 10-ounce jar roasted peppers, drained well and chopped
1/4 cup parsley, washed, dried and chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, washed, dried and chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
For the crostini:
1 loaf of a good quality baguette
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Make the balsamic-onion mixture
1. Sautee onions in a large non-stick skillet with butter and olive oil over medium high heat until translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes, making sure to stir frequently.
2. Turn heat down to medium low and add garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until liquid evaporates and onions caramelize to a golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Return to medium high flame. Add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir as needed to keep from burning.
4. Reduce heat and continue to cook until mixture becomes thick and dark brown in color. Remove a tiny portion with a fork, cool and taste for seasoning. It should be a bit tangy and savory.
5. Cool and reserve in refrigerator, or freeze. Note: You may have extra after you assemble the bruschetta. Feel free to freeze any extra for a later use.
Make the red pepper-basil mixture
6. Mix red peppers, parsley, basil, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a bowl and taste for seasoning. You want it to be savory and balanced with just a hint of acidity and a prominent basil flavor.
Make the crostini
7. Preheat oven to 250°F. Place rack in the middle of the oven.
8. Slice the baguette on a bias with a bread knife, into approximately 1/4-inch slices or desired thickness. If baguette is large, cut slices in half with a pair of kitchen scissors.
9. Spread the halved slices in a single layer on baking sheets and brush generously with olive oil.
10. Bake until thoroughly golden and crunchy, about 30 to 40 minutes depending on thickness and size of slices, turning once if needed.
11. Remove from the oven and cool completely. If oily, drain on paper towel. Store in airtight container and freeze until day of use.
Assemble the bruschetta
12. Using a fork, twirl a portion of balsamic-onion mixture and slide onto crostini slice, making a mound.
13. Make a depression with the fork in the mound. Top the onion mixture with a spoonful of red pepper-basil mixture.