Monday, August 30, 2010

Recipe 1: Grilled Sweet Bruschetta

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to get to go to Verona, Italy for work. My manager arranged for all four of his graphic designers to take a 30 hour course on logo design at a local design school there. It was a great refresher course, we learned a few new tricks, and met some wonderful people.

For our last night in Verona, our new friends threw a going away party at one of their houses. One of the appetizers served was bruschetta. It was homemade, the bread was grilled, and it was delicious! I had brushetta a couple of times, while I was in Italy, and it is still one of my favorite dishes.

The ladies that made the bruschetta walked me through the very simple process, and I made it as soon as I came back to the States. I tweaked the recipe a little, like adding a little sweetener, jarred minced garlic, and balsamic vinegar. I also use grape tomatoes, instead of campari tomatoes, because I like the sweet taste and the crisper texture. But the rest is pretty much what they taught me.

The ingredients are simple and few, and all were purchased at a local Food Lion:

10 oz. package of grape tomatoes (about 20)
2/3 oz. package of fresh packed basil (about 10-15 leaves)
1 loaf of french or italian bread. The crustier the better.
1 flat teaspoon of sweetener (remember, mine is an actual teaspoon, not a measuring spoon). I use Splenda, but sugar is fine.
1/2 teaspoon minced jarred garlic or 1 clove of garlic chopped
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

Step 1: Rinse the grape tomatoes, and cut off the tops where the stems were connected. Slice the tomatoes 4 or 5 times. Then, quarter each slice. Throw tomato pieces in a large mixing bowl. See photo below.

Step 2: Rinse basil leaves and tap dry lightly, in paper towels. Chop basil leaves, discarding the stems, and add to bowl of tomatoes.

Step 3: Drizzle in some olive oil to lightly coat the tomato/basil mixture. Be careful not to over do it. It doesn't take a lot of oil. Add sweetener, garlic, and vinegar. Stir gently to combine the ingredients. Then let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. It gives the different flavors a chance to mingle and get to know each other better.

Step 4: Start the grill. Now is the time to prepare the bread while the grill is getting warmed up. Slice the bread about 1 inch thick at a slight angle.

Step 5: Grill the sliced bread until golden brown on each side (about 1 minute per side). Remove from grill and set on a large plate.

Step 6: Drizzle or brush the bread with a little olive oil if you want (I usually skip this part because there's usually plenty of oil in the bruschetta already). Spoon the bruschetta mixture onto grilled bread and serve. You can also rub a garlic clove on the bread, before you drizzle it with oil or put the bruschetta on it, but like the oil, there's plenty of garlic in the mixture already. 

That's it! You can refrigerate any unused bruschetta mixture for a day or two, or until it starts looking funky.

I usually serve brushetta as a side dish with grilled steak, salad, and cold beer. It can also be used as an appetizer or a light lunch. My wife likes to sprinkle feta cheese on top of hers. My 2-year-old daughter likes to eat it without bread. She also like to smear it in her hair and belly button, so be warned if you serve it to toddlers. And keep a mop handy.

There are many ways to make bruschetta. Feel free to add to or mess with this recipe and let me know what you think. Also, you might want to Google brushetta to see how other people make it.

By the way, the wine in the photo above is a bottle I purchased in Verona. It was incredible. Wish I could find some in North Carolina. Oh, and that's Cranberry juice in the wine glass. We polished off the wine the first time I made bruschetta when I got back home.


The Hungry, Busy, Pulled-In-All-Directions Dad

Hi, my name is Steve. I am a husband, daddy, son, student, employee, handyman, Mr. Mom, you name it. I am starting this blog as an assignment for class. I am going to post recipes I've either created or modified. They are simple meals, appetizers, or side dishes that can be created in 30 minutes or so, with just a few ingredients. Perfect for the dad who has to work, change diapers, wipe noses, study for class, mow the lawn, rub his pregnant wife's feet, and cook dinner.

The measurements aren't going to be exact. My teaspoon is, in fact, just a teaspoon, the same one I use to stir my tea. I don't use any fancy kitchen equipment. My knife set is one that I had gotten when I joined a bank back in the early 90's. So, just warning you, nothing fancy here.

To give you a little background on myself, I am not a chef or cook, I am a Graphic Designer. I'm trying to help my pregnant wife around the house as much as I can. Since kitchen odors seem to make her gag right now, cooking duty usually falls on me. Take out gets old and is rather expensive, so it's either cook or die.

Cooking is not my specialty, and I'm not very good at it. My dad, on the other hand, is a talented chef, and just recently graduated from Vance Granville Community College with a degree in Culinary Arts at age 67. I guess I get my love for food from him. Just not the talent :)

I'll try to take photos of the prepared food, and even try to take step-by-step pictures. We'll see. I'm a busy boy these days...

Well, I hope you enjoy the recipes and I welcome any feedback!