This week has been a roller coaster of emotions. My granny passed away on Saturday after developing cancer a few months back. My heart is at ease because I know that she is no longer suffering and in pain, but at the same time, I’m so sad that she’s no longer with us. I do have reassurance that we will be together again one day and that has helped tremendously. One (of so many) things that she was known for was her marinara sauce. I have never been able to replicate it but I have found something that’s a close second. It’s from Mezzetta and it’s their Italian Plum Tomato Marinara Sauce. After adding a few secret ingredients and a smooth, creamy helping of goat cheese, I think you will truly enjoy this (simple) recipe for Baked Goat Cheese Dip!
Before I started gardening and making my own canned marinara sauce (something my granny taught me!), I would buy it pre-made then doctor it up to compliment whatever recipe I was making – and that’s exactly what I did with this one. For the Baked Goat Cheese Dip, I started out with Mezzetta Italian Plum Tomato Delicate Marinara and added garlic, fresh basil, a little paprika (for smokiness) and my secret ingredient. Mezzetta keeps it simple by using the world’s best tomatoes – straight from the San Marzano region of Italy. (If you win the giveaway, you will get to visit here as part of your trip!!)
And The Mystery Ingredient Is…
Anchovies! I have always been turned off by anchovies and I don’t really know why. (Maybe it was just the thought off eating a tiny salty fish). One thing that’s for certain is that I definitely prefer Caesar dressing with them than without. I mean, it’s in there but you don’t even taste it – yet it adds an extra level off flavor that is definitely noticeable. Chefs sneak anchovies in all the time without you even knowing it – tomato sauces, regular sauces, vinaigrettes and of course, Caesar dressing. For the Baked Goat Cheese Dip, I added just enough to give it a subtle saltiness without giving it even a hint of fishy flavor.
Making the Baked Goat Cheese Dip!
The first step for the marinara sauce is to thinly slice a couple of garlic cloves and saute them until soft. Add in the Mezzetta Marinara Sauce, a pinch of paprika, and a teensie squeeze of anchovy paste (you can use them whole if you can’t find it in the tube – Simply chop them up and they will melt right into the sauce). Let this simmer for 10 minutes or so, then stir in some chopped basil at the very end. Once your marinara sauce is ready, preheat the oven to 375°F and grab the goat cheese out of the fridge.
I’m all about simple and this is about as simple as it gets. Plop some goat cheese in the middle of a small baking dish and spoon the marinara sauce around it, leaving the cheese exposed (it makes it look better when you go to present it but you can totally cover it if you want to for an unexpected surprise!). There really aren’t any measurements here since you can make as little (or as much) as you want. My pan was 6″ x 1.5″ and I used approx. 1 cup of marinara sauce with about 4oz of goat cheese. Bake 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
While the Baked Goat Cheese Dip is in the oven, slice a baguette into 1/4″ pieces and place on a baking sheet. Pop these in along with the dip during the last few minutes to crisp up. If you’re feeling extra fancy, drizzle on some olive oil and then once they are done, rub a piece of garlic over each slice. H-E-A-V-E-N
I love how the natural sugars in the tomatoes caramelize and leave you with a super concentrated tomato flavor. The cheese gets soft and is just perfect with the crostini. Don’t forget to add some fresh herbs to the top also! The heat from the dip helps the basil to release even more flavor and aroma!
- 1/2 jar Mezzetta Italian Plum Tomato Marinara
- 2 Cloves Garlic, sliced super thin
- 2 teaspoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Anchovy Paste
- 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 4oz Goat Cheese
- Fresh Basil
- 1 Baguette, sliced 1/4" thick on the bias
- In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium to medium-low heat.
- Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly (don't let it burn!)
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the anchovy paste along with the smoked paprika and stir well.
- Add the marinara and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
- While the flavors are coming together, heat oven to 375°F.
- Shape goat cheese in the center of a small, shallow baking dish (the one I used for this recipe was 6" x 1.5")
- Right before you remove the marinara from the stove, stir in some fresh chopped basil.
- Spoon the marinara around the goat cheese and bake for 25 minutes until hot and bubbly.
- While the goat cheese dip is baking in the oven, place the slices of baguette on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for a few minutes or until crispy.
- Once the crostini comes out of the oven, rub a garlic clove over each piece (it's easier if you slice the tip off the garlic clove before rubbing over the crostini).
- Garnish the Goat Cheese Dip with fresh chiffonade of basil and serve with crispy crostini.
- Can easily be doubled. The olive oil and garlic are optional on the crostini.
What kinds of crazy ingredients have you snuck into recipes? This question actually made me just remember how my mom used to sneak white pepper into mashed potatoes because I wouldn’t eat stuff with “specks” in it :P
Click on the photo above to be entered to win:
Round trip coach airfare for TWO
11 day guided tour of iconic Italy which includes hotel accommodations for:
2 nights in Rome
3 nights in Alberobello
3 nights in Sorrento
1 night in Naples
Winner will also get to experience a hands-on cooking class (including meal!) and a tour of a San Marzano tomato farm!! This incredible prize has a value of $12,190 so be sure to enter daily for your chance to win!
Side note: I’ve won two trips already from entering contests (and I’ve literally only entered a handful total) so I’m a prime example of someone who has won! Not to mention, my friend Ashley has won so many that I’ve lost count!
Thank you to Mezzetta for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to try Marinara sauce fresh from Italy!