Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Traditional Bruschetta

by Ann

I have learned a lot since working my very part-time job at Sur la Table; most of it about food and cooking, but also about what it’s like to work an irregular hourly schedule.  Every accommodation is made to give me the “days off” that I need, yet when there are more that I need off than I am available to work, I occassionally get scheduled on a requested day off.  That was the case last Wednesday when Sheila’s mom was hosting a “swap party” where we all bring clothing and household items we’re no longer crazy about, but think one of our pals would appreciate taking home.  My plan was to drop off the items I’d been saving for the party on my way to the store. At about noon that day (party at 4:00) I got a call to relay the message that there were only a few people signed up for the class, and so the chef could handle it on her own. (Be watching for an upcoming blog post by Sheila about the party.)

When we started blogging one of our goals was to keep creating fun things to do to blog about, and the swap party fit that bill.  Naturally wine was involved.
Great news!  I could go to the party after all!  What I hadn't planned for however was what my “snack to share” would be.  I had just a couple of hours to figure it out, get to the store, and get my act together.  Bruschetta seemed like the best option.  Everyone likes it, it’s relatively healthy, and not too much work to put together.  I think that the vast majority of people pronounce the work incorrectly, but Heather has always done it right and taught us that it is Bruschetta (Italian pronunciation: [brus'ketta]), not bru-shetta, as most say.  Regardless, it’s quick, easy, and delicious!
Never a shortage of good food - You can see that I served the topping separate from the grilled bread so guests could serve themselves, which avoids soggy bruschetta.
The best thing about making bruschetta is that the varieties are limited only to a person’s imagination.  One of the best I've ever had was with goat cheese and grilled peaches.  Sorry to say that mine were very mainstream and paled in comparison (but were still quite tasty)!

Since it is such a simple recipe, its appearance is critical.  Using a le creuset  grill pan I toasted the bread in an attractive manner rendering grill marks for great presentation. If you don't have a grill pan or don't want to bother, toasted bread will work ok.  My recipe will be vague because there is not much to it.  You use as much of all of the ingredients to match your tastes.

French baguette, cut into uniform slices
olive oil for grilling
tomatoes, diced fine  (I used a combination of red and yellow)
garlic cloves, minced
fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons
olive oil - about 2-3 T for each cup of diced tomatoes
balsamic vinegar - just a drizzle to sweeten the tomatoes
freshly ground sea salt and pepper

Cut the bread into slices, making sure that the thickness is as uniform as possible

Dip one side of the bread in a shallow bowl with olive oil, minced garlic and salt

Place oiled side of the bread slices on a grill pan heated to medium; press down lightly with a lid to make the grill marks

Combine all topping ingredients in a bowl

If serving immediately, spoon onto grilled bread slices to serve, if the guests will be enjoying for an extended period of time, serve in bowl to allow each person to serve themselves to avoid the bread being too soggy

Stack the rinsed and dried basil leaves on top of one another

Roll the leaves lengthwise

Slice the rolled leaves into thin ribbons

Enjoy!  (and I hope you experiment with creative toppings!)

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