Appetizers: Do the Math

 We had guests for dinner the other night and I wanted make a hot appetizer. Looking around the kitchen, I found some “everything” bagels, Romano cheese and a first pressing olive oil. What could I do with those ingredients? Further searching turned up homemade pesto and Tabasco sauce. I became inspired and here is the result:

Bruschetta alla Romano (yields 36 pieces)
1½ pre-sliced “everything” bagels
3 Tbsp. good quality olive oil
3 tsp. pesto
¼ cup grated Romano cheese
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce

(Preparation time, 15 minutes, total time, 30 minutes)

Pre-heat oven to 350º
Mix all ingredients except bagel in a small bowl
Toast 3 bagel halves
Slicer each half and toast lightly again
Spread out 6 bagel slices on a baking sheet, cover with mixture
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown
Remove from oven, cool slightly and cut each slice into 6 wedges
Turn off oven, return pieces to oven to stay warm until guests arrive

We all declared the recipe a home run. It made me think about two of the qualities it has, and why I’m putting it in the Nicer Slicer recipe file: it tastes great and it’s made from ingredients that are staples in our kitchen. Then I started wondering how it stacks up against other criteria for our recipes: low calories and cost. So I dug out the calorie count for each ingredient:

1½ “everything” bagels:  390 calories
3 tablespoons good quality olive oil: 360 calories
3 tablespoons pesto sauce:  240 calories
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese:  220 calories
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce:  0 calories

Total: 1,210 calories, 36 wedges at 34 calories each. Serving size, 6 wedges = 204 calories.

For comparison, a Dorito chip has about 15 calories per chip. But how many people only eat 6 chips (and what about the dip?!) These bagel treats are wholesome and satisfying.How about my goal of combining great taste with low cost ingredients? Here are typical grocery store costs for these items:

Bagels: $1.69/half dozen, 1½ bagels = .42
Imported olive oil: $35/100 oz. = .70
Pesto (I used homemade) store brand: $2.50
Romano cheese: $6.79/lb. = .84
Tabasco sauce (on sale) $1.29 = .13

Total: $4.59 for 6 servings = .76 per serving

This recipe is easy to scale up for a crowd. And you can experiment with different toppings- diced fresh tomatoes, garlic, olives, different cheeses- whatever you think tastes great together. Happy slicering!

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