Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bruschetta

Bruschetta, which I should emphasize is pronounced 'broo-SKEH-ta' in Italian (and not "broo-SHEH-tuh"), is an appetizer. It's just roasted bread that's been seasoned with olive oil and rubbed with garlic. Often, they're topped with either a tomato salad, meats, or cheese. I love tomato bruschetta - which is what's most commonly known to Americans. It's an easy appetizer to serve as an hors d'oeuvres or with pasta and it looks fancy so it's great for serving company.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 loaf of good crusty bread
olive oil to drizzle on bread + 1 teaspoon for the tomato salad
3 or 4 cloves of garlic; 2 cloves to rub on the bread, 2 cloves for the tomato salad
sprinkle of salt
pinch of pepper
5 or 6 plum tomatoes
large handful of basil
1/4 sweet onion
1 ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced (optional)
I like to start by assembling the tomato salad topping because when it sits for a bit, the tomatoes get more time to soak up the flavor of the basil and the garlic and onions have a chance to mellow out and lose a bit of their breath-ruining bite.


So first, mince two cloves of garlic. You want about 1 teaspoon of minced garlic. Too much and it'll be overpowering.
Next, dice the onion. You want to have about 1/4 cup total and the dice should be relatively fine - like the size of onion pieces in salsa.
I don't like a watery salad so I squeeze the pulp out of the tomatoes but that's my preference. You could keep the juices and use them to moisten the toasted bread if it's overly crunchy.
I like my basil cut into little strips or ribbons, a.k.a. a chiffonade. It's the best way to chop basil so that it doesn't bruise and turn black.
Once all of the ingredients are prepared, just mix them all together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To prepare the bruschetta, just slice the bread and brush with olive oil. Then, I like to place them on a baking sheet and toss under the broiler (at the highest temperature setting for my oven) for two minutes or until they look nice and toasty and golden. The oil helps give the bread that pretty golden color a lot quicker; otherwise, the bread would have to stay in the oven longer, would dry out more, and you'd be left with a rock hard piece of toast.

Then, rub each piece of toast with a clove of garlic. The toasted surface of the bread will act like sandpaper so the garlic will grind down.
And when you're ready to serve, put the tomato salad onto the toasted garlicky bread.
I like to serve it with a big pile of sliced fresh mozzarella in the center of the plate, which guests can take or leave.

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