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Goat Cheese and Asparagus Bruschetta

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TASTE News Service, March 10, 2021 – You can find asparagus nearly year-round these days.

Much of what’s been available ‘til now has been coming up from Mexico. It’s looks like what’s grown in California, but in our opinion, it doesn’t taste nearly as good as that fresh, home-grown stuff. Now is the month that California’s asparagus comes into the marketplace and we couldn’t wait any longer to herald its arrival. While browsing the internet for recipe ideas, we came across this one supplied by the California Wine Institute.

The remind us that California’s asparagus season is short so it’s a good idea to get your fill while you can. When you crave a change-up from plain steamed or roasted asparagus, try them this way: on top of crunchy toast with warm, creamy goat cheese and a dollop of fragrant pesto. Serve as a hearty appetizer at a dinner party or enjoy for lunch with a green salad.

They suggest accompanying with California Riesling or California rosé. We’ve always been partial to pairing goat cheeses with Sauvignon Blanc and believe any of these three wine categories would be worth trying.

Ingredients

Pesto:

  • ¼ cup raw pistachios
  • 16 large basil leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic, sliced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dozen very slender asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 4 slices sourdough bread, each about 4 by 3 inches and ½ inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 to 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Sea salt
  • ¼ pound fresh goat cheese with no rind

Serves 4

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the pistachios, basil, garlic, and olive oil and pulse until the basil and nuts are finely chopped but do not grind to a paste. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and salt to taste. Add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the flavor. 

If necessary, trim the asparagus spears so they are no longer than the bread. Place them on a baking sheet and toss with enough olive oil to coat them lightly, about 2 to 3 teaspoons. Sprinkle with salt and roast until they are tender and starting to char, about 8 minutes.  

If the goat cheese is firm enough to slice, cut into three or four evenly thick slices and place them in a lightly oiled baking dish just large enough to hold them. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. If the goat cheese is too soft to slice, spoon it into a lightly oiled baking dish, flattening it slightly with the back of a spoon, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake until the goat cheese quivers when touched, like a soft custard, about 5 minutes.

Toast the bread. Brush one side of each toast with olive oil. Divide the warm cheese among the toasts, spreading it evenly. Top each toast with asparagus and a dollop of pesto, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.

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