July 26, 2009

Olive oil and bruschetta

Ask most anyone and they will tell you that one of their favorite appetizers is bruschetta (pronounced correctly as 'brus-ketta'). This Italian appetizer has a number of variations but the basic recipe is good bread, grilled with olive oil, rubbed with garlic and topped with a mixture of chopped tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, sea salt, and cracked pepper and then electively topped with finely grated parmesan cheese. Recently I made some bruschetta for some friends and discovered one very important lesson - the quality of the olive oil matters greatly. I had used a national brand from the grocery store and while it is not the cheapest oil going, it just did not have the rich buttery flavor of a good olive oil. So I did what I typically do when I need more input on a food item - I Googled for information. The first thing I found was this cool blog called I Love Olive Oil by a guy who pens himself Costas the Greek. I then went to my local Marshall's store and found a Spanish olive oil called Pons which I got for a great price. To finish up this tale, I today made a small batch of bruschetta using this oil and it was very yummy. Point is people, for this appetizer, for salads, for bread dipping, it really matters that you use good quality extra virgin olive oil. And then save the other stuff for cooking. Anyway, here is my recipe for bruschetta:

Rustic baguette or pane mediterranean style bread
Vine ripe tomatoes
Fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Cracked pepper
Garlic clove, peeled
Parmesan cheese wedge

Chop the tomatoes and let them drain in a colander for about 30 mins. Meanwhile, brush the bread slices both sides with olive oil and grill in a frying pan or grill pan on medium high heat - grilling both sides until a bit crispy. Take the garlic clove, slice off the top, and rub it across one side of the hot bread slices and then place them on a platter or cookie sheet. Mix chopped tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper to taste. There is no hard and fast rule here on the quantities - you want enough oil to taste it but yet you do not want to have the tomatoes swimming in oil either. The basil volume also is to taste. Spoon tomato mixture onto bread slices garlic side up. Fine grate fresh parmesan cheese lightly across top and serve.

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