This baked goat cheese is our take on a dish served at Napolese, our go-to neighborhood pizzeria. To us, the appetizer is just as satisfying as the pizza. Quality canned tomatoes are key here; we recommend finding the best variety and brand possible. Typically, we use San Marzano tomatoes, a variety grown in Italy that’s now widely available canned—which we also use for our artisan-style pizza. We serve this one with slices of crusty bread or naan for dipping. But we like it best as a light dinner for two with a bottle of red and some marinated olives—so we don’t have to share.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- ½ cup chopped white onion
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil or ¼ teaspoon dried
- ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes (or less, to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes, San Marzano or fire roasted, if possible
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces soft goat cheese
- Baguette or crusty bread, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Peel and finely mince the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Chop the basil.
- In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon fresh basil (¼ teaspoon dried), and oregano, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the white wine vinegar and stir for 1 minute, then carefully add the tomatoes, kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Reduce the heat, cover, and allow to simmer, lightly bubbling, for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Spoon the tomato sauce into shallow baking dishes or ramekins, then add dollops of goat cheese. Bake until the cheese is warmed through, about 15 minutes. If desired, broil for a minute or two to brown the top of the cheese. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then top with 1 teaspoon of fresh basil (optional) and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm with crusty bread.