Monday, November 12, 2007

Italian Bruschetta - A perfect blend of tomatoes, onions and herbs on garlic-flavored bread!

Bruschetta is a traditional Italian appetizer or antipasti, as you see it listed in a menu in an Italian restaurant, and definitely my favorite! I love bruschetta, especially the one that they serve over at the CheeseCake factory. They bake a special bread which is more fluffy, like a pizza base; but the traditional bruschetta is supposed to have a hard italian crusty bread for a base, and is topped with tomatoes, garlic, and basil, in the least. I like my own version though, which also includes onions and parmesan cheese:) So here's my recipe for this tasty snack which is very simple and easy to make, and healthy too! Ooh! I still have the lovely smell of garlic and the tomatoes and herbs in my nose!!

Different people serve Bruschetta differently, but the key to making a good bruschetta is to use a good baguette and a good toaster-oven. You can bake your own french bread or use the ready-made ones from the supermarket. Try using fresh basil and fresh shredded parmesan for that extra flavor!

Ingredients
4 large ripe and juicy tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup onions - chopped finely
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves - chopped
1 tbsp dry oregano flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (goat cheese or mozarella tastes great too)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices crusty Italian bread - cut 1/2-inch thick

Method
For the bread, take each slice and brush it with olive oil. Now take a garlic bulb and gently rub it over the bread slice evenly, then grill on the oven rack until golden on both sides (about 8-10 mins). Alternaely, you can mince the garlic and add it with olive oil and then apply the mixture to the bread.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a cross on the top of the tomatoes and drop them into the boiling water. Cook until the skin of the tomatoes begins to split or peel, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of ice water to cool, then roughly chop them up. Let them drain in a strainer over the kitchen sink to allow tomatoes to release all their juices (about 10-15 mins).

Put the strained tomatoes, garlic, chopped onions, oregano and chopped basil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and mix well.

Arrange the bread slices on a platter, then spoon a good amount of the tomato mixture onto each bread slice. Traditionally, bruschetta has no cheese, but as we are hard-core cheese-lovers, I had to sprinkle it with some Parmesan cheese. You can also experiment with goat cheese or mozarella, if you like.

Tip - This serves to be a perfect mid-day snack or an appetizer for a party. You can even add chopped green chillies to add a kick!

Serve the delicious Italian Bruschetta with a side dish of any seasonal salad, or some Fettucini Alfredo

Related Recipes:
Almond Pesto Fettucini
Chana-Masala Sandwich - Indian Bruschetta
Shiitake Mushroom & Bleu Cheese Crostini

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