I recently moved into a new place in LA and wanted to cook something fun for my house mates for dinner. I had no idea what I wanted to make, so I went to our local Trader Joes for inspiration! Luckily, before I even walked in the door, I saw a GORGEOUS basil plant just begging me to bring it home. It was only $2.99 for the whole plant, which was a steal because it had at least 20 different plants in the pot.
I’ve used it a lot, but even still, there is so much left! Once I saw this basil, I knew I wanted to do an Italian themed meal. I decided to make Stoplight Baguettes. They’re very simple, and extremely delicious! My house mates made sure we didn’t have any leftovers. 🙂
To begin, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and slice the sourdough round into slices about 1″ thick. I love using the sourdough bread, because it has more flavor than plain or wheat bread.
Then brush the sourdough with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil. It works best if you use an actual brush, but I didn’t have one, so I improvised and used a spatula. Sometimes you’ve just gotta work with what you have!
Next, slice your basil into thin strips. It’s better to slice it than leave the leaves whole because it’s easier to bite into when it’s cooked. You don’t end up with big bites of basil this way. Also, NEVER substitute dried basil for the real leaves in this recipe. It would give it a completely different taste.
After this, you get to my favorite part! Slice your tomatoes! You could really use any tomatoes, but in order to make the ‘stoplight’ you’ll need one green, one yellow, and one red.
Once you’ve done that you can begin laying the tomatoes on the baguette slices. I like mine to be straight, and sometimes it takes a minute to figure out which slices to put on which baguette pieces, but just be warned, since the tomatoes are freshly sliced they will stick to the basil if you pick them back up. Just make sure you’ve got even basil on all your sourdough.
Now, at this point, you could pop them into the oven, but I like to add a garnish of chopped avocadobecause it’s creamy flavor complements the tomatoes and basil so well.
Now you’re ready to put them in the oven for about 15 minutes. You’ll know when they’re ready because the sides of the sourdough will start to get a golden brown tint, the tomatoes will blister slightly, and the basil will turn a darker green. Once they’re done, you’re ready to add them to your favorite pasta, for a lovely dinner that’s never resulted in leftovers!