I’m never quite sure what to bring when someone asks me to contribute an appetizer to an event. I love making dips, but sometimes they clash with whatever is being served and I really wanted to make something that would look lovely, taste wonderful, and take advantage of the fresh tomatoes of the season. Enter, the Caprese Salad!
Of course, since I was taking the dish to a fellow wine-friend’s home, I was going to need to incorporate wine somewhere, so I tried to find a recipe that would fit all the necessary categories. Finding a few ideas on the web, I set to work creating a Toasted Caprese Salad on Bruschetta with a Port Wine Glaze.
- 2 cups Port Wine (whatever you like or have on hand)
- Butter (just a small tab is enough to “gloss the sauce”)
- 2 loaves of long/thin French/Italian bread (I made my own, but store bought is also wonderful in this recipe)
- Olive oil (enough to brush each side of the toast slices)
- Tomatoes (I used two large, ripe tomatoes, but use whatever you have on hand)
- Basil (Fresh is preferred, but I only had dried, which worked well)
- salt/pepper (to taste)
- White Wine (I used a Pinot Grigio, but use whatever you have available)
- Fresh Mozzarella cheese (I bought a log of sliced mozzarella and cut it into strips)
- Extra basil (fresh is preferred but dried is perfectly acceptable)
I made the Port Wine Glaze first, since it would be need time to rest and thicken. Pour the 2 cups of port into a sauce pan and simmer the wine until it is reduced to 1/2 cup. You can tell it has thickened enough if you can see a faint/quick line after drawing a spatula through the sauce from top to bottom. Add a small tab of butter to “gloss the sauce” and adjust seasonings using a pinch of salt/sugar as needed. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. If you’re making this step a day ahead, keep the glaze in the fridge and warm slightly before using so the butter isn’t solid when spooning it over the bruschetta.
Next, make your tomato mixture. I diced two tomatoes fairly fine and then tossed them with salt/pepper and a bit of Pinot Grigio. The tomato was fairly juicy, so just before using it, I placed the mixture into a small colander to drain the excess liquid off to keep the bruschetta from getting soaked.
To create your bruschetta, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Slice the loaves of bread into ~3/4″ pieces (as thick or thin as you like) and layer them onto sheet trays lined with foil. NOTE: Using foil will make the final toasts easier to move to a serving tray. LIghtly brush the top of each piece of bread with olive oil and allow to toast for 5 minutes. Flip the toasts over and brush again with olive oil before toasting the second side for 5 minutes.
To assemble, top each toast with a layer of tomato mixture, a sliver or two of mozzarella, and a sprinkle of basil. Once each toast is adequately topped, pop your bruschetta into the oven for a final 5 minute toasting to melt the cheese a bit. When they come out of the oven, spoon the Port Wine Glaze over top of each individual toast, allowing the glaze to pour over the edges and be soaked up by the bread. Serve as quickly as possible – these are best when warm, crispy, and dripping with glaze. NOTE: If you have leftover bruschetta, you can re-toast them the following day to brighten up the flavor. You can also chunk them up and toss them into a salad to create your own version of a Panzanella salad.
This is a really beautiful appetizer that is surprisingly simple to make. Adjust or alter things as they appeal to you and your family.. that’s what makes cooking such an adventure!