Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bruschetta on the River

Since the 15th century, bruschetta has graced the tables of Italian cuisine. I imagine leftover pieces of bread were probably grilled and laced with oils and herbs just so the kitchen would not waste precious food. This recipe is so good that you will look forward to dried out loaves of Italian-style or French breads in your pantry. The crustier, the better. The next rafting trip, try this out on the grill as an hors d'houevre. Your guests may not need dinner after munching on this grilled delight!


Leftover bread (French, Italian crusty breads are best)
cup of olive oil
5 - 6 large fresh tomato sliced in half (roasted is best!)
4 red peppers (roasted is best!)
10 garlic cloves (cut 5 cloves in half; mince the rest)
fresh basil - save a few leaves for decorative touch (or rosemary)
balsamic vinegar (or your favorite champagne vinegar)
gorgonzola cheese (blue cheese, romano, feta are great substitutes)
parmesan cheese

Slice bread into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside onto a cookie sheet. Oil tomatoes and red peppers generously with olive oil. Set on grill at medium-high heat. Let tomatoes wilt slightly and take off the grill when blackened on cut side. Set aside. Continue to roast peppers until skins are black. Place peppers into a paper bag or covered bowl. Set aside. Peel garlic and cut several in half. Set aside. Take 5 cloves of garlic and mince, then set aside. When peppers have cooled enough to handle, take a slightly wet paper towel and rub the blackened skin off until the roasted red flesh is visible. Chop both tomatoes and peppers into a coarse dice. Place into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Add minced garlic. Chop basil or rosemary or both into a fine dice. Add to the bowl. Add 1/3 cup of olive oil and 3 - 4 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Stir. Set aside. (Add more oil for a good spreading mix)

Grill bread last because it will toast within seconds. Take cut garlic and rub each slice top and bottom. Drizzle olive oil generously over the bread. Place onto the medium heat side of the grill and watch carefully. I usually wait until the edges blacken then turn. This only takes a minute to complete, so keep an eye out. Place toasted bread back onto the cookie sheet to cool.

Drizzle more olive oil onto the serving side of the toast. Smear a tsp of gorgonzola onto the toasted bread. Place a dollop of the marinated tomatoes and peppers on top of the cheese. Add finely chopped basil on top (optional). Place onto a nice serving tray and sprinkle a light touch of parmesan cheese over everything. Serve. (Make a double serving, it will be gone in a flash!)

Instead of gorgonzola, use mozzarella or bufala cheese. Place cheese on top instead and then after assembling the toasts, broil until bubbling on top. Then serve onto a decorative plate and add slivers of basil.

You can also make this as a vegan dish by omitting or substituting a vegan cheese product. I like it just with the tomato and pepper mixture. Cracked pepper on top with extra slivers of basil... WOW. So deliziosa...

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