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From garden to plate: Tomato pesto topped bruchette

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Cooking from the garden is not like cooking from the store. If you're a shopper-cook, mostly you start with a recipes and make a list of ingredient to buy from the store. A gardener-cook does it the other way around. The garden provides the list of ingredients, inspired the recipe and collaborates on the menu. For example: It is hot and humid you are not wanting anything heavy. So you look into the garden and find there is a abundance of herbs, lettuce and tomatoes. What is better than open faced sandwiches or brochette topped with fresh ingredients.

This is a great picnic lunch for the garden or by the pool.

Tomato and pesto topping bruchette

4 slices of French or Italian bread

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 small handful fresh red leaf lettuce, roughly torn to bit size

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tbsp pesto

freshly group black pepper

1 cup coarsely grated sharp farm cheese

1. Preheat the broiler to high.

2. Place the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil on one side until crisp but not browned. Remove from broiler and turn the slices over.

3. Spread the mayo over the untoasted side. Arrange the lettuce then the tomatoes slices. Add onion slices.

4. Drizzle the pesto over the onions. Season the pepper then scatter the cheddar over the top.

5. Return the bread to the broiler until they just start to brown. The cheese should be well melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Pesto sauce

2 tbsp pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 1/2 inch cube of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and stems removed

1. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over a low heat, stirring constantly. Pan fry for about 4 minutes. Do not burn.

2. Combine the pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Cut the cheese into small chunks and add them along with the pepper. Process until all ingredients are pulverized.

3. With the processor running, pour the olive oil in a steady steam, until a paste is formed. Add the bails and pulse briefly. Stop processing when the leaves are pulverized.

4. To store the pesto: place pesto in a small container and cover with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent darkening. Cover the container and refrigerate.

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