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Mozzarella and Roasted Red Pepper Boo-schetta

Makes about 20 toasts, or 10 servings
  • Active time: 45 min
    Total time: 1 hr
Kids and adults alike will get a kick out of these "red-veined eyeball" toasts. The great thing about the boo-schetta is that a platter full of them not only looks eerie but also tastes delicious—a claim you can't always make when striving for themed party food. Whatever you do, don't blink! These cheese-topped toasts will disappear before your very eyes.

This recipe is part of our Gourmet Modern Menu for Halloween: Spooky Snacks. Click here to view the full menu.
Published in Gourmet Live 10.24.12

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (12-inch-long) loaf of Italian bread (about 2 to 3 inches in diameter), cut into 20 slices, about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 to 2 large garlic cloves, halved crosswise
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 (1/2-pound) balls fresh, lightly salted mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto (see Cooks' Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone, softened
  • 7 large pitted black olives (Mediterranean-style or canned California), ends trimmed and each olive cut crosswise into thirds
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained, patted dry, and cut into thin strips

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Heat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
  • Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and bake until pale golden, 6 to 12 minutes. Rub tops of slices with cut sides of garlic, then brush each bread slice with oil. Season toasts with salt and pepper and transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely.
  • Cut mozzarella crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices and trim, if necessary, to fit toasts.
  • Stir together pesto and mascarpone in a small bowl. If necessary, thin mixture with a little olive oil or water.
  • Dollop 1/2 teaspoon pesto mixture in center of each mozzarella-covered toast, then top each dollop with an olive slice to form the "irises" of the "eyeballs." Add 6 to 8 pepper slices for "veins," trimming to fit.
  • Serve within 1 hour of making.

COOKS' NOTES:

  • Prepared pestos can vary in texture. Some homemade versions can be very dense, while some store-bought ones can be quite loose with excess oil. If purchasing pesto, look for one that is not loose.
  • Bread can be toasted 4 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.
  • Boo-schetta should be assembled no more than 1 hour ahead and kept at room temperature because the fresh mozzarella will begin to weep a little liquid and soften the toast.
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