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.

Italian 5-Layer Dip

Good morning my food-loving friends!

Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

How’s everyone’s weekend going so far? Up to anything fun? I’ve been working hard on a really fun surprise I have in store for all of you. It’s the first time I’ve done something like this and if (when! positive thinking here…) it turns out the way I hope I know you are just going to love it. Stay tuned for March to see what it is!


But enough of building up the suspense, today I’m sharing yet another fun recipe that you can make for Super Bowl ONE WEEK FROM TODAY! This Italian 5-Layer Dip is a fun twist on the classic Mexican 5-Layer Dip and can be as involved or uninvolved as you want. I’ve made all of the layers from scratch, but there are a few where you can certainly use store-bought versions as well.

Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

Let me just tell you, I am so excited about this recipe. I’ve been envisioning an Italian 5-Layer Dip for a while, and I tested it out once a while back but that version still needed some fine tuning. This version turned out JUST how I had hoped. Each layer has the perfect balance of flavors: savory and perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of acidity. And they all come together beautifully.

Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

Let’s talk about each layer here real quick:

The base layer is practically a hummus, but with more of an Italian twist. I simply took white beans and pureed them with some fresh rosemary, olive oil and lemon juice. If you have a food processor or a decent blender, this is so easy. And so tasty! I kind of wanted to stop right there and scoop it all up with a giant pita, but I held back because I was so excited to taste the final product.

Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

For the second layer we’re making a pesto. Now, this is one of those layers that you can easily buy pre-made, but if you’ve already got your food processor (or blender) out, you might as well make your own, super tasty homemade version. We keep it classic here (basil, pine nuts, Parmesan or Asiago, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice) but you could easily play around with this. Why not try kale instead of basil? Or almonds instead of pine nuts? The possibilities are endless!

Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

Next, we’re headed to eggplant caponata town. Keep your food processor out, because we will be using it again, but we’ve got to get this cooking on the stove for a little bit first. We sauté eggplant, olive oil, garlic and onion… Throw in a little white wine for acidity and some extra flavor, and when that’s all said and done we throw it in the food processor for a rough chop, just enough so it’s easily spreadable.

Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

You still with me here? I’m sure you’ve all made bruschetta before. Tomatoes, basil and garlic are the perfect trifecta and the next layer in this Italian 5-Layer Dip. I’m sure you could also find a store-bought version of this, but fresh is so good! We’re almost there.

Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

The last thing we need to do is sprinkle on a little more Asiago or Parmesan cheese. I chose to use Asiago because I felt it was a little heartier and easier to grate, but there are so many options out there!

Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

Now, we could eat this right here, right now. But is anyone else as much of a sucker for a browned, gooey, melty cheese as I am? I popped this bad boy under the broiler for five minutes or so, and I was so happy I did. The dip came out with such a beautiful golden cheese top layer I could hardly wait long enough to snap some photos before I dug in (that will teach me to not skip breakfast on recipe prep days!)

Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

But enough of me rambling on about this Italian 5-Layer Dip. Are you ready to rush out to the store and get to trying this right away? I myself am super pumped that I still have this sitting in my refrigerator. Didn’t I just mention something about breakfast goals?

Italian 5-Layer Dip

Yield: Makes one 8-inch square dish of dip.

A delicious dip featuring classic Italian flavors. Perfect for entertaining!

Ingredients

    For the White Bean Layer:
  • 2 – 15 ounce cans Great Northern beans (or other white beans), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    For the Pesto Layer:
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 cup Asiago or Parmesan, grated
  • 1/3 cup plus 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
    For the Eggplant Caponata Layer:
  • 1 small (or ½ of a large) eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ white onion, diced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    For the Bruschetta Layer:
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    For the Cheese Layer:
  • 1 cup Asiago or Parmesan, grated

Instructions

    To make the White Bean Layer:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender until smooth. Spread mixture onto the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish.
    To make the Pesto Layer:
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender until smooth. Spread pesto on top of white bean layer in baking dish.
    To make the Eggplant Caponata Layer:
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, stirring until translucent. Add eggplant to pan and additional 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir to coat. Add white wine and stir again, sautéing until eggplant is cooked through. Place sautéed eggplant mixture in food processor, add salt and pepper, and pulse until mixture is mostly pureed (some small chunks are okay.) Spread this layer on top of the pesto layer in the baking dish.
    To make the Bruschetta Layer:
  1. Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Spread bruschetta on top of eggplant caponata layer.
    To Finish:
  1. Spread grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese on top of bruschetta. Place under broiler on High for 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden-brown.
  2. Serve with sliced baguette, pita bread or crackers.
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Italian 5-Layer Dip | CaliGirl Cooking

Oh, sweet deliciousness.