I have been inspired. In a food community on Google Plus somebody posted a wonderful antipasto plate; I commented on how stunning it looked and how incredible the flavours must have been. In summary it was a culinary opera with many parts that came together melding in to one dramatic plate of food. There was radish, asparagus, a sweet and tart aged balsamic vinegar, salty prosciutto and creamy mozzarella; and then some pickled onion for acidity and ripened tomato for an umami hit. A perfect Italian summer on a plate.
Suitably inspired I banged together a rather quick but unforgettable bruschetta – and it just felt like a real celebration of the vibrancy of fresh Italian food.
Traditionally bruschetta is bread, usually ciabatta because of its open light structure, grilled on both sides and eaten warm with olive oil; and often served with a savoury garnish. It is said that bruschetta, which of course is of Italian origin, was used to test the new season’s olive oil. Now, it has become more about the savoury garnish and can be found topped with anything from cannellini beans, onion and sage, as in the Tuscan version of beans on toast, to cabbage, garlic and chilli.
The version on this here blog celebrates the fresh flavours of Italy and one that I picture whilst dreaming about looking out on a summer morning over the rolling hills of Tuscany. In it there is a medley of sweet miniature tomatoes, peppery radish, great olive oil, sweet and acidic aged balsamic, parsley, fennel fronds, sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Essentially it is served on crunchy griddled ciabatta. Buon appetito.
Bruschetta - Vibrancy of ItalyPrint
- ■ 200g medley of miniature tomatoes | Including cherry, black Russian, grape, yellow and red tomatoes.
- ■ 4 small radishes | Sliced.
- ■ a splash olive oil | Good quality virgin here.
- ■ a splash balsamic vinegar | A rich acidic and sweet aged version is tops.
- ■ 10 parsley leaves | Roughly chopped.
- ■ 4 fennel fronds | Roughly chopped. Adds a hint of aniseed to the bruschetta.
- ■ seasoning of sea salt and black pepper | Coarsely ground black pepper.
- ■ a few slices old-fashioned ham | Or ham off the bone - just something that's not mainly water if you know what I mean.
- ■ a few slices ciabatta | A couple of days old ciabatta griddles to a lovely crunch.
- ■ a few drizzles olive oil | To griddle the ciabatta.
Pre-heat a griddle pan on medium heat to get it hot.
On a wooden chopping board roughly chop up the tomatoes and then add the sliced radishes. Pour over a splash of olive oil and a splash of the balsamic vinegar. Now add the chopped parsley, fennel fronds, sea salt and black pepper. Mix it all up – I just use a knife in a toss and scrape motion. Put the tomato mix in a bowl, and you will be left with some lovely tomatoey, oily and vinegary juices on the chopping board. Very quickly dip each slice of the ciabatta bread in the juice – so it becomes acquainted but not over-friendly i.e. not soggy. Lightly drizzle olive oil over both sides of each ciabatta slice and then place them side-down in the hot griddle. Turn over when a lovely golden brown and do the same to the other side.
Once both sides have browned (being careful not to burn) remove the ciabatta from the griddle and on one side of each slice lay some of that lovely ham. Top the ham with a couple of spoons of the tomato mix and eat immediately.
If you don't have a griddle then you can grill (broil) the ciabatta.