Bruschetta Bar

Who’s ready for a party??

A Bruschetta Bar is perfect for entertaining guests, with tons of options for toppings like Classic Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella, Mushroom Bruschetta and Roasted Eggplant White Bean Spread!

Because today I’m bringing you a fun, inventive way to serve up some light snacks to your next party guests – a homemade Bruschetta Bar!


In all honesty, today’s post should only be considered the tip of the iceberg, because the possibilities are endless. I’ll get you started with some of what I consider the “must-have” basics for any Bruschetta Bar, and then leave it up to you to get creative from there and come up with some of your own toppings. You could even add these Butternut Squash Crostini with Crispy Prosciutto and Sage or these Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey to the spread if you really want to wow everyone. There are endless possibilities!

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I came up to the Bay Area last week for a friend’s baby shower. She’s due just a few weeks before me (another girl!) and I am so excited to be going on this journey with her. It has been great to have someone to talk to and compare stories with as we both experience pregnancy for the first time. It is a pretty big life change, after all!

So when my friend asked if I’d be willing to help with some food for her shower, of course I jumped at the chance. She’s been having a little rougher time with morning sickness than I have, so I was sure to ask her what types of food were sounding best to her before planning the menu. I would hate to show up to her shower with a bunch of food that made her feel sick!

A Bruschetta Bar would not be complete without both a sweet and savory option: Classic Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Honeyed Ricotta Goat Cheese Spread with Fresh Nectarines!

After a little discussion back and forth, we decided on a Bruschetta Bar. We thought it would be the perfect “light snack” to have available for a mid-afternoon shower, would hold up well in the heat (this was an outdoor shower in the month of August, after all) and actually sounded appetizing to her.

So how do we create a Bruschetta Bar?? Well, my friends, it is incredibly easy (like, you’re going to smack yourself in the forehead after reading this if you have never thought of serving a Bruschetta Bar at a get-together before.) You simply put out a bunch of different topping options (or, better yet, have your friends each bring a topping, potluck style), toast up a big batch of crostini and set it all out for your guests to go to town. That’s it, no last-minute frantic rush in the kitchen or need to dish out plates for your guests. My favorite kind of entertaining!

A Bruschetta Bar is an easy entertaining idea that will keep all guests happy, especially with a Classic Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella and Roasted Eggplant White Bean Spread!

As you can see by now (and as I mentioned before), there is really a myriad of directions you could go for your Bruschetta Bar. Here are the basics I settled on for my friend’s shower:

Classic Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella
Mushroom Bruschetta
Roasted Eggplant White Bean Spread
Honeyed Ricotta Goat Cheese Spread with Fresh Nectarines

Each topping is incredibly easy to make, with minimal ingredients and not a lot of cooking required. At first glance it may seem intimidating, but I promise you it’s a breeze to throw together. You can also prep a lot of the toppings ahead of time, which means less pressure on you to be in the kitchen and more time to sit and enjoy the company of your guests.

A Roasted Eggplant and White Bean Spread stars in this super-easy Bruschetta Bar.

Read on for the topping recipes, toast up some crostini and be sure to tell me about some of your other favorite variations in the comments below!

Classic Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Classic Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil come together to form the perfect topping for golden crostini when paired with creamy mozzarella.

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into slices the size of your crostini
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. For best results, refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Serve in a bowl with a platter of mozzarella alongside.

 

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Mushroom Bruschetta
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Finely chopped mushrooms sauteed in olive oil with a touch of fresh tarragon make the perfect addition to a fun Bruschetta Bar.

Course: Appetizer
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Once oil is warm, add mushrooms, stirring over medium heat until they begin to sweat. Add tarragon and garlic and continue stirring until mushrooms are cooked through. Squeeze in lemon juice and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Roasted Eggplant White Bean Spread | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Roasted Eggplant White Bean Spread
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

Roasted eggplant and white beans come together to form a smooth, silky spread that is perfect to spread on toasted crostini.

Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 5 cloves peeled garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium mixing bowl, toss together the eggplant, garlic, olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spread mixture out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

  2. Add roasted eggplant and garlic, cannellini beans, olive oil and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor and process until a smooth puree forms. Add salt and pepper to taste, pureeing between each addition to incorporate. 

  3. For best results, refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

 

Honeyed Ricotta Goat Cheese Spread with Fresh Nectarines | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Honeyed Ricotta Goat Cheese Spread with Fresh Nectarines
Prep Time
10 mins
 

This sweet, tangy and creamy spread is delicious when paired with fresh nectarines and used to top crunchy crostini.

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces creamy goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 fresh nectarines, thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Stir together ricotta, goat cheese, cream cheese and honey in a medium mixing bowl. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Serve in a bowl alongside a platter of the freshly sliced nectarines.

Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto

The most refreshing salad EVER!

A big bowl of refreshing Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto. The perfect summer salad!

Seriously, if you’re in need of some hydration in your life (and I know at least all us Californians do after this heat wave we’ve been having) then this Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto is going to be your saving grace right now.


Let me tell you, we are soooo lucky that our landlord was kind enough to install A/C for us about a year ago because, judging by all my CA friends’ social media posts, every store that sells fans is completely sold out and people are sweltering in the near 100-degree heat. This does not sound like one ounce of fun to me (especially being pregnant,) so this is my open invitation to all of my overheating friends to come over and enjoy some Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto in our comfortably 75-degree little duplex!

But seriously, even if you’re not close enough to come over, you’ve GOT to get some of this salad in your life stat. Don’t get me wrong, I love a delicious classic caprese salad with that creamy mozzarella and alllll the fresh tomatoes and basil, but sometimes I just want to mix it up and swapping in the watermelon for the tomatoes is just the perfect little change (but not too much of a change) to really wow people the first time you serve it up.

A close-up shot of delicious Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto. The perfect no-cook salad for summer!

And the prosciutto…Oh, the prosciutto! Okay, it’s no secret that I love the stuff, and it has that perfect saltiness (and extra protein) to really give this dish the ultimate flavor trifecta AND pass as a complete meal. I gave the prosciutto a quick spin in a saute pan to heat it up and therefore make it “pregnancy-safe,” but if you’re not expecting you can just throw it in as-is, straight from the package. Or, if you’re a vegetarian, simply omit the prosciutto and you’ll still be more than pleased with the taste. Pinky promise.

So how long will it be until you can get this Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto whipped up and ready to serve on your kitchen table? Approximately 10 minutes. No joke. There’s no cooking involved, so the most time-consuming thing about this recipe might just be chopping up the watermelon into bite-size chunks.

A single serving of Watermelon Caprese Salad with Crispy Prosciutto from CaliGirlCooking.com.

And, if you haven’t refrigerated your uncut watermelon ahead of time, you may want to give the salad a little bit of time to chill out before serving. It’s totally worth it for how much more refreshing it will make it!

I don’t know about you, but all this talking about my new favorite “salad” is making me want to whip up another batch this weekend. We’re hanging out in town again, and planning on fully enjoying the summer weather with some beach time and maybe a barbecue or two.

What are your plans for the first “official” weekend of summer?!? Making some Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto, I hope?

A bowl of this refreshing Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto is the perfect light meal for summer!

A big bowl of refreshing Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto. The perfect summer salad!
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Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

This fun take on the classic caprese salad is full of refreshing watermelon and bites of salty prosciutto. The perfect dish for warm weather entertaining!

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Salad, Snack
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 mini seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 12 ounces ciliegine (mini mozzarella balls)
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 5 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Drizzle of balsamic glaze
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients except the balsamic glaze to a large bowl and toss to combine. 

  2. If watermelon was not pre-chilled before cutting, place salad in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. 

  3. Before serving, drizzle on balsamic glaze and garnish with whole basil leaves, if desired.

Watermelon Caprese Salad with Prosciutto | CaliGirlCooking.com

Cherry Salsa

My cherry obsession is still going strong…

A bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa just waiting to be eaten with your favorite tortilla chips!

I honestly can’t get enough! Do you ever obsess about a certain produce item coming into season so much that your list of what to do with it is about a mile long? Hi, yea, looking at me right here. This Cherry Salsa is just another in the long list of recipe ideas I’ve been dreaming about since cherries went out of season last year, and I’m so excited about the way it turned out!


I know I’ve been inundating you with the cherry recipes lately, so I can only hope that you’re enjoying these Cherry Bourbon Breezes and this Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini as much as I am. If so, I’m confident that you’ll be totally digging on this Cherry Salsa as well.

It’s an easy recipe, with no cooking involved, that can easily be served up on its own as an appetizer or snack, or as a topping for your favorite barbecued meat (I have some juicy grilled pork chops in mind.) Might I also mention it would be the perfect addition to your Father’s Day menu this weekend?

This Cherry Salsa is the perfect appetizer or snack for any barbecue or family get-together you're having this weekend!

Speaking of, what are your plans for celebrating Dad on Sunday? We’re so lucky that both of our dads live relatively close to each other, so we’re heading up to the Bay Area to spend some quality time with them, and of course to make them some delicious food!

I think some Cherry Salsa might definitely need to make an appearance alongside the tri tip, chicken and sausages we’re already planning on serving. Still need to think of some more sides and dessert though. Any fun suggestions?

As I mentioned above, this Cherry Salsa is a breeze to make, and you can have it ready to serve in under 20 minutes. It involves basically all of the same ingredients as a regular pico de gallo salsa, but subs in fresh, pitted cherries instead of  tomatoes. That’s it! So easy, right?

Fresh cherries, rinsed and ready to be made into delicious Cherry Salsa!

And if you’re looking for another, more traditional salsa to serve alongside (or instead) of this one, be sure to check out my Spicy Homemade Salsa. You could even go with a fancy selection and add this Mango Salsa to the mix! Clearly I’m a salsa-lover and I’m not ashamed to show it.

Even if you have no plans for Father’s Day, this Cherry Salsa needs to make an appearance in your household in the next week. Cherries are at the top of their game right now and you wouldn’t want to miss out on another great opportunity to use them.

An overhead shot of a big bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa.

Happy Monday and I hope your week is made even better with this delicious recipe!

A bowl of delicious Cherry Salsa just waiting to be eaten with your favorite tortilla chips!
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Cherry Salsa

A fun take on everyone's favorite Mexican condiment, this salsa uses the season's best fresh cherries in lieu of tomatoes - a delicious twist!

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Servings: 6 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces fresh red cherries, pitted and diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Refrigerate for a half hour or so for best results. Serve with tortilla chips!

Cherry Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini

Because no good barbecue ever started without a delicious appetizer!

A pile of Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini to make for your next get-together.

And one that’s loaded with fresh basil, sweet cherries and creamy ricotta cheese. Yea, I’m pretty sure these Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini are going to be the only appetizer you want to serve at get-togethers for as long as you can get your hands on the fresh cherries that are loading Farmer’s Markets and grocery stores right now.


I warned you on Friday that I’m having a bit of cherry-fever right now, so bear with me as I get just one more cherry-based recipe out of my system. I mean, don’t you want something delicious to snack on while you sip on your equally delicious Cherry Bourbon Breezes this afternoon?

We’re up in Tahoe enjoying one more full day before heading home, and it’s my hubby’s birthday! Big plans for the day include relaxing in the sun, most likely doing some sort of outdoor activity and eating lots and lots of food. I may even need to make a trip to the store so we can whip up some Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini! What are you up to today?

Rows upon rows of delicious Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini, the perfect appetizer for your next get-together.

I hope you have lots of great food on the menu. Having an excuse to get a bunch of friends together and eat all day is one of my favorite things about long weekends. Bonus if you can enjoy some time outdoors while the weather is this beautiful! Is it just me or does getting out in the fresh air and sunshine really do a body good? I think I took it for granted for so long because of the multi-year drought we’d been suffering through in California. We really had no bad weather days, and TBH I was missing it! But that all changed this past year and we’ve gotten quite a bit of rain and crummy weather, which is definitely helping us get out of the drought but also made me appreciate the nice weather more!

So I hope you take your party outside today and whip up some Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini in addition to all of the other delicious things you’ll be making. Because they are too good not to!

I was going back and forth between making a watermelon caprese or cherry salsa, but since I just shared this Spicy Homemade Salsa and I already have this summery Hazelnut Pesto Caprese Couscous in the lineup, I decided to mix it up and make a savory-sweet crostini. After all, handheld foods are the best foods, especially when cooking for a casual crowd!

A beautiful display of Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini, ready to be enjoyed by all of your dinner party guests!

The two very great things about these Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini are that (a) you can prep the time-consuming stuff in advance and (b) once that stuff is prepped the recipe comes together in a flash.

And when I talk about time-consuming…It’s really not that bad folks. All I’m referring to is toasting the crostini and pitting the cherries. We can all handle that, right?

Note: On pitting cherries, you need no fancy equipment whatsoever, just a handy straw! Simply poke the straw through the center of the cherry and the pit should pop right out the other end. Easy!

When I made this recipe, I toasted my crostini first thing in the morning and then went back and added the toppings right before I wanted to serve it. I also made the cherry topping in the morning and stored it in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it.

But can we just talk about this cherry topping for a second? Because I was sort of winging it but am SO happy with the way it turned out. And it’s soooo easy. All it consists of are the cherries, lemon zest, a shallot and balsamic vinegar. Nothing more, nothing less. Now I think that’s something we can all handle, am I right?

A close-up shot of a piece of Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini. You won't be able to stop eating these!

Once you have your toasted crostini and you’re ready to serve, slather each piece with some creamy ricotta and then sprinkle on a light dusting of salt and pepper.

Next, top each crostini with a fairly generous scoop of the cherry topping.

Finally, sprinkle on some chopped fresh basil. All ready to go!

I’m not going to lie, I ate about five of these crostini for lunch when I made them and then proceeded to eat about eight more that night with dinner. I could not stop! I’m pretty sure if you give these a shot you’ll be in the same boat as me, so try your best to share 😉

Rows of Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini ready to be consumed at your next cookout!

I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with fun, food and friends!

Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

With fresh cherries and basil gracing ricotta-smothered bread slices, these fresh, vibrant crostini will help you welcome in summer with ease.

Course: Appetizer
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 16 ounces fresh cherries, pitted and diced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 10 ounces ricotta cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Turn the broiler in your oven on high. Cover a cookie sheet or large jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and place as many baguette slices as you can on it. Brush each slice (on both sides) with olive oil and place under broiler. Broil on high for 2-4 minutes each side (keep a close eye on them as they can go from perfectly toasted to burnt in a matter of seconds!) then remove and let cool. 

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cherries, shallot, lemon zest and balsamic vinegar. 

  3. Once your crostini are cool, start generously spreading ricotta on each piece, then lightly sprinkle on salt and pepper.

  4. Place a big spoonful (about a tablespoon and a half depending on the size of your slices) of the cherry topping on top of each piece, then sprinkle on the basil. 

Herbed Cherry and Ricotta Crostini | CaliGirlCooking.com

Spicy Homemade Salsa

Hey, hey, hey friends!

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

I am so excited for today’s post because I’ve partnered up with some of my favorite event and wedding planning babes, A Savvy Lifestyle, to bring you the most delicious Spicy Homemade Salsa you’ve ever tasted. I’m serious here. If you like spicy, you’re going to LOVE this. You probably won’t even be able to put down the chips. It’s a good thing the recipe makes a huge batch so you just might be willing to share some with your friends for your Cinco de Mayo get-together!


I have to tell you a little story about the Savvy group because they really are a special bunch. When my husband and I first got engaged, one of the first people I told was my good friend Brittany who also happens to be a wedding planner. Now, I used to be an event planner but I am definitely no expert in weddings, so I needed all of the help I could get! Brittany just so happens to work for A Savvy Lifestyle’s parent company, A Savvy Event, so I knew I would be in good hands with her.

Seeing as we wanted her to be able to actually ENJOY our wedding (and not have to work for once!) she quickly connected us with one of her amazing coworkers, Jamie, to be our actual planner leading up to and the day of the event. All spare you all of the lovey-dovey, romantic details of our wedding planning process, but let’s just say it was so special to work so closely with such an amazingly friendly group of talented ladies! So when they asked me to contribute a festive Cinco de Mayo recipe for their lifestyle brand, I jumped at the chance.

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

Coincidentally, this recipe is one that my husband has had in his arsenal since his good ol’ Isla Vista college days, so we’re putting our marriage to work to bring you this Spicy Homemade Salsa! We whip up a batch whenever we’re having a barbecue, family get-together or pretty much any other large gathering of people, and it’s always a hit, especially with our spice-lovers!

Seriously though, the spice-level on this recipe (as written) is not for the faint of heart. But there is some great news that goes along with that so as not to totally scare you away:

  1. When I say the salsa is “spicy,” think of it as a slow, gradual buildup. It doesn’t hit you all at once, and it certainly doesn’t burn off all of your taste buds with the first bite. I’d say if you normally buy “medium” salsa at the store, you’ll easily be able to tolerate at least small doses of this recipe as is.
  2. If you’re REALLY averse/sensitive to heat, you can easily just cut down the amount of habaneros used, or even use seeded jalapenos instead. Once you take the seeds out, peppers really just add flavor and hardly any spice at all.

The most recent evolution of this recipe, which you can find here in the A Savvy Lifestyle post, is our addition of some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Seriously, do not skip this step if you can at all help it. The smokiness of the peppers adds such a fantastic flavor to the salsa, it truly makes the dish three-dimensional and out of this world.

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

CLICK HERE FOR THE SPICY HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE!

So what are your plans for Cinco de Mayo? I for one am headed out to Salt Lake City tonight through Sunday for the Everything Food Conference, so no big Cinco celebration for me this year, but I am beyond excited. This will be the first full-on “food blogging” conference that I’ve attended and I’ve already got so many brands and people on my list to meet I just know it’s going to be a blast and go by way too fast. If for any reason you’re headed that way as well, be sure to drop me a line so we can connect!

So since I’ll be too busy mingling with my fellow bloggers and living it up in the SLC, do me a favor and enjoy some Spicy Homemade Salsa for me, will ya? And maybe a margarita or two?

Spicy Homemade Salsa | CaliGirlCooking.com

And be sure to check out A Savvy Lifestyle for the recipe and tons of other great posts about events, wine country and so much more!!