Friday, November 19, 2010

Bruschetta with Black Olive Pesto, Ricotta and Basil

This is the final recipe in my Bruschetta series. Enjoy.

Bruschetta with Black Olive Pesto, Ricotta and Basil                           

Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer.                          
Use only a high-quality whole-milk ricotta for this recipe

1    medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
2    1/2    cup pitted kalamata olives
1/4    cup artichoke hearts
2    Tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan                       
2    Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for serving               
1    small shallot , minced (about 2 tablespoons)                       
1 1/2    teaspoons juice from 1 lemon                       
1 1/2    cups whole-milk ricotta cheese (see note)                       
    Table salt and ground black pepper           
4    tablespoons fresh basil leaves , finely shredded/divided                 


Process garlic, olives, artichokes, grated Parmesan, olive oil, shallot, and lemon juice in food processor until uniform paste forms, about 10 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once during processing. Combine ricotta with salt and pepper (to taste) and 2 tablespoons shredded basil in small bowl and spread to edges. Divide olive pesto among toasts and carefully spread over ricotta. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with reserved basil, and serve.    

I hope you have enjoyed this series of Brushetta recipes and perhaps even gotten inspired to try some other flavor combinations.  New tasty appetizers are always so useful for parties. I'd love to hear about your favorite.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Disappearing Artichoke Bruschetta

This was the biggest hit of all the different Bruschetta recipes I tested.   It literally disappeared. As an appetizer, latecomers didn't even have a chance to taste it! Better make extra. 

Bruschetta with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan                            

Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer.  


14 ounces artichoke hearts , rinsed and patted dry with paper towels                      
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon                      
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)                      
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil , plus extra for serving                      
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves , finely shredded                      
 Table salt and ground black pepper                      
2 ounces Parmesan cheese , 1 ounce finely grated (about 1/2 cup), 1 ounce shaved into strips with vegetable peeler                      


Pulse artichoke hearts, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in food processor until coarse puree forms, about six 1-second pulses, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once during processing. Add grated Parmesan and pulse to combine, about two 1-second pulses. Divide artichoke mixture among toasts and spread to edges. Top with shaved Parmesan. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.                      

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Classic Bruschetta

The first in my series of Bruschetta recipes.

Bruschetta with Tomatoes and Basil             

Makes 8 large slices.             

This is the classic bruschetta, although you can substitute other herbs. Decrease the quantity of stronger herbs, such as thyme or oregano.    

4          medium tomatoes , ripe, (about 1 2/3 pounds), cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice     
1/3       cup shredded fresh basil leaves         
1 1/2    tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
2          tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
1          loaf country bread (approximately a 12-by-5-inch loaf), sliced crosswise into 1-inch thick pieces, ends removed         
3          large clove garlic , peeled       
7          tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil                                           
2          medium red onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise and diced very fine                                       
1 1/2    tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves                                    

Heat 3 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add onions and 2 cloves of garlic; sauté, stirring often, until softened, 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Continue to cook, stirring often, until onions are sweet and tender, 7 to 8 minutes longer. Stir in mint and vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set onion mixture aside. (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 1 week.)                                      

Mix tomatoes, basil, and salt and pepper to taste in medium bowl. Set aside.                                             

Heat broiler or light grill fire.                                     

Broil or grill bread until golden brown on both sides. Place toast slices on large platter, rub garlic over tops, then brush with oil.                                    

When the onion mix has cooled mix together with the tomato mix

Use slotted spoon to divide tomato mixture among toast slices. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Really Good Bruschetta; Techniques

I was recently invited to an Italian themed party.  Well when I think Italian food, I think "There goes my diet"  But I don't want that to happen, and I can't not go to this party. So, since it was a pot luck, I signed up to bring "something w/veggies" (i.e. something I can eat even everything else is pasta) and started trying to find a truly Italian vegetable.  Well of course I thought of the tomato, but all alone that is kind of boring, and I've done the tomato, basil, mozzarella salad so many times I'm bored with it. So my next thought was Bruschetta. YUMMY! but still a little plain. So, I decided to "dress it up". I also needed to find out how to make it “transportable” for a party without having it go soggy or all the toppings falling off.  In my research I found the following information about the science of

Really Good Bruschetta!
There’s a whole lot more to bruschetta than chopped tomatoes and basil. I wanted smart flavor combinations that didn’t require a bib.

The Problem

The ingredients in modern bruschetta—toasted bread, tomatoes, and basil—may be an appealing combination, but in reality, the tomatoes usually lack flavor, excess liquid results in soggy bread, and precariously stacked toppings often end up on your shirt.

The Goal

I wanted my bruschetta to be full of flavor, easy to eat, and substantial enough to serve as either an appetizer or light entree.

The Solution

Aside from deciding on the ingredients, my biggest challenge was figuring out how to contain the toppings on my toasts so that they were easy to pick up and eat, even when drizzled with the standard vinaigrette.

I realized early on that to make the whole package structurally sound from crust to crown, I needed a “glue” to anchor the toppings to the bread. I discovered that the solution didn’t lie in a condiment, but in a technique.

By pulsing one of the topping ingredients in the food processor until it formed a rough paste, not only did I achieve the stable base I needed for the other toppings, but I provided contrasting textures. And to make sure it could offer optimum crunch with each bite, I toasted the bread and brushed it with fresh garlic butter right before topping it. I also discovered that while the individual toppings can be mixed up in advance, you want to assemble them right before you are ready to eat to avoid the toast going soggy.

 Check back again soon for a sampling of some of the recipes I made.