I have been cultivating a small herb garden here in the studio so that I can have easy access to herbs without having to plan as much. One of the herbs that I truly love is basil. Like so many foods I’ve talked about here on Shoot to Cook, I took the fresh basil in my parent’s garden for granted growing up and I am super excited to have it at home now whenever I want. Granted, my herb garden is quite modest in size so it doesn’t produce huge quantities of any one thing, but after patient waiting I was able to harvest enough fresh basil to make a small quantity of one of my favorite foods: pesto. I could put pesto on just about anything. I could use it to replace all other condiments on a sandwich, or on pasta, or as a salad dressing. I could eat it straight up. Hardcore. However, since I was only able to make a small amount from my little basil plants, I decided to make bruschetta.
Let’s all just take a moment and think about how much bruschetta rocks. Did you take a moment? No? Well do it now.
It’s pretty good right? Toasty bread with all sorts of savory goodness on top?
Bruschetta is just about one of the most awesome foods in the world. What better way to use up some day old bread, some over the hill tomatoes and the kickass pesto you just made. And it is SO easy to make. Granted, you have to be a little careful with ingredients and the timing, but these are minor skills that are easily learned.
1. Feel free to use stale bread, but not bread that is so stale that it crumbles into dust. You want bread that will have a nice crunch on the crust when toasted, and still be porous enough in the crumb to soak up some of the juices from your topping. On the other hand, your bread should be firm enough to not turn to mush when said juices hit it. Those prepackaged “bruschetta” things at the grocery store do not bruschetta make. Those are just dried out crackers with some oregano and garlic powder stuck on them. Use real bread please.
2. If making bruschetta for one, use your toaster. If making bruschetta for a group, use the broiler (with a few drops of olive oil). In either case, construct your bruschetta right before serving, while the toasted bread is still nice and hot. Even if your topping it cold, the warm bread will be a nice counterpoint.
3. Make sure everyone has some. This ensures that no one will be offended by the beautiful garlic fragrance that could overwhelm those who do not partake.
As for the recipe? I didn’t really use one. For the pesto, I started with a packed cup of fresh basil which I pulsed in the food processor a few times. To that I added one large chopped garlic clove and about a quarter cup of pine nuts. This I pulsed until it was starting to get smooth. Then I drizzled in olive oil until the consistency seemed correct. I checked the taste and decided to add some parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt. Process some more, added a little more oil, a few more pine nuts and voila! Insanely awesome pesto.
For the topping I chopped up some roma tomatoes, added in a couple cloves of chopped garlic, and some parmesan. I then mixed in a little fresh parsley for color. I would have used basil but I’d used all of my basil in the pesto. In retrospect since there was garlic in the pesto I could have left it out of the topping, but then again, garlic is good for you, so more is better right? Another technique you can use is to scrape the garlic directly on the toasted bread, for a more subtle garlic taste.
Seriously though, I served this bruschetta for dinner as an appetizer for some pasta, and the pasta seemed absolutely boring by comparison. I think maybe next time I’m going to have an all bruschetta meal. Hmm, I guess that means I’ll have to concoct a sweet bruschetta for dessert … well, there is always Nutella!