Thursday, 1 September 2016

Bruschetta Two Ways

On Monday I had a couple of friends, Stephanie and Jemma over for a meal and whipped up a couple of fail-safe bruschetta choices as part of our antipasti - or starter.

Bruschetta is a beautiful, beautiful thing and yet so often I've had bland versions and been disappointed. When the three of us, and our jet-setting friend Jade, were in Rome earlier in the year, we attended a pasta making class and I asked the chefs about the perfect bruschetta (theirs was insanely good). As ever in Italian cookery, the key is using the best possible ingredients - quality is mandatory. Also they told us to never, ever put tomatoes into the fridge as this takes away from the flavour - a rule I've stuck to since, and can genuinely taste the difference.

Here are two ways to top bruschetta Italian style - the second is a creation of my own made simply to use up the last of my homemade Walnut and Basil Pesto. The below makes about 6-8 slices for each topping and they are suitable for all the family.

Bruschetta - tomato and Pesto and Mascarpone

Tomato Bruschetta

  • 1 ciabatta (or other crusty fresh bread) Couple of large tomatoes (room temperature)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Italian preferably
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Tsp sea salt
  • Tsp black pepper
  • Optional: few basil leaves

Firstly slice up the ciabatta and set aside. Peel a garlic clove and cut in half, now rub all over the bread slices using the 'wet' part of the garlic to impart some great flavour. Lay flat on a plate or a board and season with sea salt and black pepper, then turn over and do the same. Set aside for the minute.

Cut the tomatoes into small chunks, removing most of the seeds and place into a small bowl. Top with the olive oil and balsamic and stir. Leave to stand for a good half an hour.

Now lightly toast the slices of ciabatta under the grill on both sides. Remove from the grill and top with the tomatoes.

You can of course add a final flourish of basil to add another classic Italian taste, but these are great as they are.

Pesto & Mascarpone Bruschetta with Mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp Walnut Pesto (homemade pesto is always better but jarred is fine if that's all you have)
  • 1 tub mascarpone cheese
  • Half a ball of mozzarella
  • Grating of fresh nutmeg
  • Black pepper

Repeat step one from the Tomato Bruschetta to get the slices ready for the topping.

Simply combine the pesto and mascarpone and mix really well with a wooden spoon until completely combined and a minty green hue. Add a generous pinch of black pepper and mix some more.

Spread over a generous spoonful onto each, and then grate over a little nutmeg onto each.

Tear the mozzarella and add a small piece to the top of each slice.

Tip: any leftover topping makes a fantastic alternative dip for blanched asparagus spears, sliced peppers or carrot batons.

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