Blue cheese, basil, tomatoes . . . I mean YUM. With a little smoky salt and the crunch of toasted baguette slices, this is perfection on bread. Here I turn the blue cheese into a thick dressing that gets spooned over a basil leaf (instead of lettuce).
A tomato slice goes on top, nearly concealing the blue cheese so when you bite in it’s a total explosion of flavor. Use heirloom tomatoes when they’re available, preferably in a multitude of hues to brighten your platter and make you smile. (They always make me smile.)
If making these for a party, I often triple the blue cheese dressing and chop some raw veggies to put alongside it. Can you ever have too much blue cheese dip on hand? I didn’t think so.
- Yield: 16 BITES (DEPENDING ON THE LENGTH OF YOUR BAGUETTE)
- ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk, plus extra as needed
- 3 to 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus extra as needed
- About 1 teaspoon pickle juice, plus extra as needed (if you
- have a jar in the fridge; optional)
- 1½ teaspoons smoked salt (preferably a flaky sea salt like
- smoked Maldon), plus extra as needed
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for serving
- 1 baguette, sliced into ¼- to ½-inch-thick slices on a diagonal
- 2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 16 large fresh basil leaves
- 3 very juicy, ripe tomatoes (about ¾ pound), sliced to fit the bread (you want 16 slices)
- Stir together the blue cheese, 3 tablespoons buttermilk, 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, lemon juice, pickle juice (if using), ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium-size bowl. The dressing should be on the thick side; add the remaining mayonnaise if needed to make it thicker. Taste and add another tablespoon buttermilk and more lemon juice, pickle juice, or salt if needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving (or for up to 5 days).
- Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the broiler to high. Lay the baguette slices on a sheet pan. Rub each slice with the cut side of a garlic clove half. Dip a pastry brush or silicone brush into the olive oil and dab it over the bread. Sprinkle with smoked salt.
- Toast the baguette slices until they are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes (watch the bread closely as broiler intensities vary). Turn the slices and return the pan to the oven. Toast on the other side until the bread feels dry but isn’t yet golden, 1 to 2 minutes. (You don’t want the bread to get golden because it will be too crunchy! Better to have one browned side and one not-so-crisp side so your guests can bite in easily.)
- Remove the toast from the oven and set it aside to cool for 5 minutes. Lay a basil leaf on each piece of toast so it rests on it like a little cup. Spoon a little blue cheese dressing into the basil leaf and place a tomato slice on top. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper and serve.