When I was in second grade, my family had an in-ground pool installed in the backyard. I was so excited to swim in it that I invited my entire class to my house for a pool party (with no consent from my parents, no less). Only one person came. All we did was sit in the laundry room, play video games, and eat Cookie Crisp. We didn’t even swim because he forgot his swim trunks.
I don’t know if it was because of my puerile recklessness or my parents not being in the mood to entertain a bunch of kids between the ages of 7 and 18, but I don’t remember having too many guests in my house on my behalf. When my roommates proposed the idea of hosting a potluck brunch at our apartment, I said “yes” and never looked back; this brunch was an opportunity to make up for lost time.
Mingling is always made easier with self-serve, handheld food (and, with 20+ people in my small apartment, we needed all the help we could get). I set up a small buffet station in the living room so folks could try my Bruschetta with Roasted Lemon Chutney, Whipped Goat Cheese and Baby Arugula. The sweet-sour-savory punch from the aromatic chutney can awaken the dead. But, when accompanied by a smear of goat cheese and pinch of baby arugula, any astringency simply melts away. Except the astringency in your heart caused by a soured childhood social life. Nope, goat cheese and arugula can’t fix that.
Bruschetta with Roasted Lemon Chutney, Whipped Goat Cheese and Arugula
Inspired by All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art by Molly Stevens, W. W. Norton & Company, November 1, 2011
- 1 ounce shallots, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 3 Meyer lemons
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups, packed, baby arugula
- 2 baguettes, cut on a bias into ½-inch slices
Preheat oven to 400°. After washing lemons, use a knife to remove the ends of the lemon. If you see nothing but pith (the bitter, white membrane surrounding the flesh in citrus fruits) continue to slice thin rounds off until flesh is exposed. Slice lemons into ½-inch medallions and remove seeds. Arrange lemons on a baking sheet and coat rounds with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Flip rounds over and coat other side with an additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast lemons until tender and slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes and turning over halfway through. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Raise oven temperature to 450°.
While lemons are cooling, soak the shallots in a small bowl of cold water to mute its raw flavor. Arrange baguette slices on baking tray in one layer and drizzle with olive oil. Toast in oven until crisp and golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Transfer the lemons to a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Drain the shallots and add them to the processor with garlic and honey. Pulse until lemons are coarsely chopped. Add remaining olive oil and continue pulsing until the chutney is blended but chunky. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Just before serving stir in the fresh herbs. Serve at room temperature or keep chilled in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
To whip goat cheese, combine goat cheese and heavy cream in (clean) food processor. Blend until smooth.
To assemble, spread chutney on toast, top with a few leaves of arugula, and dollop whipped goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil if you feel like being fancy.