Thursday, 7 April 2011

A Lesson In Bruschette

Bruschetta is a lovely, lovely Italian food. It's basically grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil, seasoning and various other toppings, a kind of open sandwich.

What you need is some nice round, rustic style bread that is stale (fresh, moist ones won't work). If you can get Italian sourdough bread, that would be perfect. Otherwise, feel free to use any kind of stale bread - including baguettes which you can turn into crostini (similar to bruschette but they're smaller slices).

The best way to get good bruschette is to toast it, 1cm thick, on a barbecue. You can of course do it on a griddle pan at home. Once they're nice and done, with wonderful black char marks across them, take them out and rub them gently on the top side with a halved clove of garlic, then drizzle it with good quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt and pepper to taste.

Now, on to the topping. You can make it either very simple or lush and rich - it's up to you. You can just add chopped herbs, or tomato and basil, or vegetables (cooked or fresh), or cheese, or prosciutto, or sea food, or... There are no rules - except that you should always use fresh food.

Now, here are a few of my favorite toppings:

My Classic Tomato Bruschetta

This is, in my opinion, the basic bruschetta. This is a stepping stone to the more complicated ones and it's a good basic recipe to master. All you need is your crostini or bruschetta (crostini are smaller slices), a couple (or more, depending on how many people you serve) ripe tomatoes, fresh or dry basil - fresh works better though) and the usual other ingredients. Toast your bread and in the meantime chop the tomatoes and the basil, add them in a bowl with s&p and extra virgin double O and mix them up. If you like it more rustic, chop the tomatoes in larger pieces and scrunch them up with your hands while dressing them. Then add to the garlic-rubbed warm crostini or bruschette, and serve immediately.
Alternatively, you can also grate some parmesan or tear up some mozarella on top and pop them in the oven for a couple of minutes (or nuke em in a microwave) until the cheese melts. Top with some more basil or double O if you like it flashy. It's simple and always gets the job done. Try it for breakfast or before a comfort lunch.

Aubergine Bruschette

You're going to need the usual ingredients plus some white wine vinegar, a handful of parsley, mint, 1 clove of garlic and 2 medium firm aubergines, which you have to slice lengthwise decently thin (a few mm). Grill the aubergine slices on the griddle pan or barbecue and put them aside in a bowl until all are done. Meanwhile, grab another bowl and add the about 8 tablespoons of double O, 3 tablespoons of vinegar with the chopped parsley mint and garlic and season it with s&p. When the eggplants are done, toss them in with the dressing then divide on among your bruschetta or crostini slices. Be sure to push them into the bread with your fingers. Enjoy!

Peas, Broad Beans and Cheese Crostini 

Get yourself some fresh peas and broad beans, together with a handful of mint and mash them up in a pestle and mortar (or food processor), then add a handful of grated Parmesan or Pecorino (or any salted, sharp cheese), double O and a little lemon juice and s&p. Spoon it on your crostini and (honestly, i just do this for looks) grate some more cheese on top. Totally delicious.

Spicy Mozarella, Red Chilli and Basil Crostini

This one's easy and delicious. Tear some mozarella balls or pieces into smaller chunks, then top the crostini with them. Chop a red chilli and sprinkle it on top, add some s&p and double O. To finish it, grab some basil leaves and tear it over the crostini - or chop it up and sprinkle it. Try it x
(Sometimes i add dried oregano or grated lemon zest to flavor - you could give that a go too)

Love, S x

(some pics taken from jamie's website, btw)

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