Caramelized Onion Bruschetta

Bruschetta is a wonderful starter!

I made a lot of bruschetta over the summer as I had an abundance of tomatoes from the garden. It’s a great base for dressing up, or down: add leftover chicken to make it a meal, sprinkle cheese to make it hardy and turn day-old bread into a truly yummy treat!

Caramelized Onion & Pesto


Fresh, fast and delicious! Bruschetta is a perennial favorite!

  • Mix oil and garlic in a small bowl
  • Brush bread with olive oil and garlic paste mixture
  • In a small fry pan, cook onions with butter and salt over low heat, covering for 3-5 minutes to sweat, before removing cover. Cook down the onions until they are a rich brown: this should take about 10 minutes
  • In a blender process the tomatoes and pepper until they are still a bit chunky; add the tomato mixture to the onions and cook down for 10 minutes over medium-low heat to allow the flavors to blend
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees; place oiled bread on a baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, until the bread is slightly browned. Be careful not to let it burn!
  • Spread pesto on toasted bread, add a generous layer of the tomato mixture
  • Toast for ~5 minutes until the edges are crispy
  • If desired, you can add cheese, leftover chicken, or beef and a drizzle of balsamic glaze
  • 6-8 pieces of thickly sliced bread (Italian, French, or Sourdough are good choices)
  • 6 medium tomatoes, or 20-25 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 4-5 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs garlic paste

Fava Bean Puree with Zaatar

fava bean puree
fava bean puree

Fava bean puree is a tasty alternative to ordinary hummus (made with garbanzo beans).

Fava bean puree with zaatar has a woodsy, aromatic overtone and a wonderful creamy texture.

Zaatar is a middle Eastern spice made with ground dried thymeoreganomarjoram, mixed with toasted sesame seeds, salt and sumac.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

  • 1 can fava beans (19-20 oz, packed in water)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil + 1 tbs (to drizzle on finished puree)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp each, salt & pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp zaatar
  • 1 tsp thyme (use fresh, if possible)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 1/2 tbs lemon juice (if using fresh lemon, zest the fruit for garnish)
cooking instructions
  • Rinse fava beans, set to drain
  • Heat 1/4 cup oil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, thyme and zaatar over medium-high heat in a heavy bottomed skillet, stirring so that garlic and onion don’t burn
  • Add fava beans and stir for 2-3 minutes
  • Add vegetable stock, reduce heat to medium-low and cover skillet; simmer for about 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed
  • Remove skillet from the heat and transfer beans to a blender
  • Blend until puree is smooth, slowly adding in lemon juice and (up to 1/4 cup olive oil, use less if you want a stiffer texture)
  • Spoon mixture into a serving dish and drizzle 1 tbs olive oil over the puree
  • Serve with pita strips, crostini, or with crudite

Variation: If you can find fresh fava beans, use those in lieu of canned. You will need to boil the beans for about 12 minutes before using.

“Goat Toasties”

Hungry and looking for a quick snack idea? Want to make a tasty and easy starter? Goat cheese toasties are one of my favorites — it’s a variation on bruschetta that is tangy and flavorful. These are also great paired with tomato soup!

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 12 minutes


  • Crusty baguette
  • Olive oil
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  • Roasted garlic (enough to smear toasted bread before covering with goat cheese and melting the cheese)
  • Sprinkle of paprika
  • Pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  • Slice baguette into 1/2″ slices
  • Brush with olive oil (mix pepper and paprka into oil before applying to bread)
  • Toast bread at 350 degrees until golden brown; be careful to keep an eye on the bread–it can easily burn if left unattended!
  • Remove bread from the oven and smear rounds with a thin layer of roasted garlic
  • Cover the rounds with a generous layer of goat cheese crumbles
  • Place bread back into the oven until the goat cheese is toasted and slightly browned; this should take about 10 minutes
  • If desired, garnish with a thin strip of pimento, or sundried tomato (use the type packed in oil)

Note: Roasted garlic is easy to do and this recipe assumes that you have some on hand. Simply take several heads of garlic and slice off the top third–or pre-peeled cloves–drizzle with oil, place in covered, oven safe baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes, until the garlic is easily mashed. I keep roasted garlic on hand for use in recipes; it gives a much richer taste than fresh garlic in recipes and keeps well if kept in a sealed container

Appetizers Using Egg Roll Skins

egg roll skinks can be used to make lots of crunch, delicious appetizer variations

If you are like me,  you are challenged to find quick, tasty and kid-friendly options for family gatherings. When I am designated as the “apps person” here are some quick go-to items that I’ve made over the years–with happy faces all-around!

Reuben Rolls or Rachel Rolls
There are several variations that my family likes, including: a traditional “reuben in a skin”, a version using cole slaw instead of sauerkraut and a “Rachel Roll”.  Prepping for a big gathering? Try a mix n’ match platter!

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Basic recipe:

  • Package of egg roll skins
  • 1lb thin-sliced deli meat (corned beef or turkey, as desired)
  • 1 package of coleslaw mix (from the salad green section), or a jar of sauerkraut
  • 1/2 lb thin sliced Swiss cheese (make sure that it is thinly sliced so that it melts!)
  • Egg wash (for sealing the rolls)
  • Thousand Island dressing
  • For the Reuben Rolls, use corned beef and sauerkraut; for Rachel Rolls, use turkey, cole slaw and Swiss cheese
    • Sriracha — add a touch to the dressing if you want to make you dip zesty
    • Like a touch of umami? Add thinly sliced grilled onions!
    • Want a bit of deli homage? Try including thinly sliced cornichons; I suggest these as they are firm and small–thinly slicing them will allow you to roll the wrap around them.
    • Deli meat is salty, so you likely won’t want to add that–but if you like pepper, use to taste.
    • If you want to use coleslaw, but want a bit more tang: mix it in a bowl with 2 TBSP of red wine vinegar before mixing with meat.

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Separate egg rolls skins on a tray to make prep easier
  2. Set up a deep fry pan with enough oil to cover egg rolls
  3. Finely chop meat (and cornichons, if used)
  4. Mix meat and slaw, or sauerkraut; make sure that you drain any excess liquid–the filling should be moist, but not wet
  5. Place ~1TBSP of filling in center of wrap; wet edges of wrap with egg wash and tuck in sides, then fold over one end and roll up like a carpet until you have a good seal. It’s very important to make sure that the wrap is sealed: if not, your rolls will fall apart when fried! If the wraps are not staying closed, try wetting the edges again, or use toothpicks to keep the wrap in one piece
  6. Preheat the oil to about  375 degrees; try dropping a small piece of bread into the oil–when it turns golden brown and floats almost immediately, it’s ready
  7. Drop in the egg rolls a few at a time–you want to ensure that the oil does not cool off from dropping too many into the pot at one time!  Let the egg rolls sit for about 30 seconds before you touch them; after that, gently move them to ensure even cooking on all sides
  8. Once the egg rolls are evenly browned, remove and place on paper towels to drain any excess oil
  9. Serve with thousand island dressing (adding variants, or substituting as desired–Sriracha, ranch dressing, etc.)