Balsamic Bruschetta with Basil Ricotta on Sweet Cornbread Tarts

balsamic bruschetta

I must admit that I am a pretty darn competitive person.  Well, maybe I shouldn’t use the word “competitive” rather something more like “motivated by other people”, so I’m always up for a good challenge.  This year’s recipe contest for the 10th Annual Tomato Art Fest was all things bruschetta!! I didn’t know the “topic” until about a week before the contest, so I didn’t have a ton of time to really brainstorm, but honestly, I do my best work under pressure because it eliminates the opportunity to second-guess myself.

Earlier this summer I posted a Sundried Tomato Sweet Cornbread recipe that sort of began the initial recipe creating process for this year’s contest.  Not knowing at the time what the topic would be this year, I just knew that I wanted to incorporate that somehow into my dish if it fit.  Well, when I found out it was Bruschetta, it seemed like the perfect base to build on.  I ended up dropping the sun dried tomatoes and let the Balsamic Bruschetta take center stage, but kept all other ingredients of the cornbread the same.  Cornbread has a tendency to be a little dry, so I felt like there needed to be something creamy between the bread and the Bruschetta.  With the sweetness of the bread and the tangy and sweet of the Bruschetta, it needed to be a bit understated as to not overpower the other components.  I LOVE goat cheese, but it’s flavor was too bold for this dish.  I decided to go with Ricotta because it had the creaminess that I was looking for, but is mild enough that I could develop the flavor by adding to it.  With the sweet cornbread and the tart Bruschetta, I wanted to add a little savory with basil, but decided to transition the other two components with a very subtle sweet taste, so I added Agave nectar and tossed in a little salt to really pull them all together.  When I tasted it on Friday after just finishing each component, I liked what I tasted, but it wasn’t until the next morning after the Basil Ricotta and Bruschetta had time to marry overnight that I knew I was pleased with  my dish and ready to present it to the judges.

Now, if you remember from last year’s entry, I had special packaging for my entry.  Well, this year was no different.  I found some gorgeous tomato digital images on Etsy similar to this and then found a free favor box template online and created little napkin lined boxes tied with raffia, so each judge could have their own special little treat.  I am proud to say that not only did this Bruschetta win “Honorable Mention” in the contest, the packaging earned me the unwritten title of “Tomato Art Fest Recipe Contest Presentation Queen”.

Last year’s presentation that helped me win “Honorable Mention”.

This was definitely a fun challenge for me again this year and I am happy to have walked away a “winner” again for another year.  Next year’s “topic” is going to be sauces, so here begins the challenge; however, I should probably procrastinate a bit or it will be a long year for my family and friends taste testing tomato sauce……..

Here’s what the judges had to say:

“1st up you are the presentation queen. Returning judges from last year said “this reminds me of that great presentation from last year.”. Of course, they didn’t find out it was indeed you until after full judging was completed.  You have a talent in packaging and making your item a special delight they can’t wait to discover/try.  They loved this on both entries and you definitely seen to have  “branded” yourself and make it memorable. 🙂

General–we had several no-shows this year.  The judges tasted 17 dishes and yours  stood out (as. Above).  judges highly preferred the first balsamic one (we’ll call this one “A”)  over the bloody mary shrimp one (call it “B”).

On balsamic one(A)…flavorful with effort for all elements evident but tasted simpler. Lighter,  and more “clear”  throughout the flavor/palette experience–than your 2nd entry or others. Described as a thoughtful, well-conceived offering. “A” had great tasting tomatoes and good color that balanced well with dish.  Kudos on your tart-making.”

Balsamic Bruschetta with Basil Ricotta on Sweet Cornbread Tarts

Balsamic Bruschetta with Basil Ricotta on Sweet Cornbread Tarts


    For the Balsamic Bruschetta
  • ½ pint sweet yellow cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • ½ pint Cherokee Purple cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • For the Basil Ricotta
  • 1 teaspoon The Republic of Tea Agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chiffonade
  • 4 ounces reduced fat Ricotta cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • For the Sweet Cornbread Tarts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ¼ cup melted butter or shortening
  • ¼ cup The Republic of Tea Agave nectar


    For the Balsamic Bruschetta:
  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and basil. Refrigerate at least 1-2 hours or overnight for best flavors.
  2. Spread Basil Ricotta on cornbread tarts, top with balsamic tomato mixture.
  3. For the Basil Ricotta:
  4. In a bowl, combine Ricotta, chiffonade basil, Agave nectar, and salt. Stir until combined and creamy.
  5. For the Sweet Cornbread Tarts:
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, corn meal, baking powder and salt. Add sundried tomatoes and stir to combine.
  7. In another bowl, combine eggs, half and half, melted butter and Agave nectar. Pour mixture into dry ingredient mixture. Stir just to combine, only about 10 seconds. Do not over stir.
  8. Generously grease a mini muffin or mini tart pan. Pour mixture into desired baking dish and bake for 5-6 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Run the back of a knife along the sides of the dish and remove from pan.

Here are some of the entries from my fellow Nashville Food Blogger buddies.  The competition was full of amazing tomato-loving talent and I feel honored to have been in their good company!!!


Oven Roasted Tomato Jam with Savory Sundried Tomato Cornmeal Scones by Lesley Eats looks AMAZING!!!! I can’t wait to make that tomato jam!



Corbin in the Dell took 2nd place for her Oom-Pah and 1st place for her Ho’Chetta.  Way to go, girl!!!

The Republic of Tea provided me with the Agave Nectar used in this dish.  All thoughts and opinions are completely my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the brand.

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  1. Funny how this one and mine are so similar yet, well, not! I *almost* put goat cheese on mine, too. 🙂
    Congratulations on your honorable mention. And your presentation award! ha!

    • Thanks, Lesley!! Maybe we need to have a “Bring your Bruschetta” wine night! Let’s get together soon!!!

  2. Yay! Congrats on the honorable mention! And of course presentation queen! You deserve it!

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