Bruschetta, which are slices of toasted, rustic bread topped with simple ingredients, started out as a simple peasant snack for field workers, but today is an appetizer found in most Italian restaurants.
The most famous version of bruschetta is topped with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and either fresh basil or a sprinkle of oregano… But any crostini topped with meats, cheeses, beans, or other seasonal vegetables and herbs, make endless possibilities that can satisfy all palates.
My trio of bruschetta appetizers come from what was fresh at the farmer’s market, the colors and flavors that can be combined to create such memorable toppings. When I am in Rome, I always go to Campo di Fiori to do my daily shopping for vegetables.
I have made friends there and here at my local farmer’s market, and they can always tell me what is the freshest, or about some unique herb that can spark my imagination on how to incorporate it into a new recipe.
My first bruschetta is the most famous with fresh tomato, the best extra-virgin olive oil and oregano… It is a crowd pleaser that never lets you down. The second is topped with thinly sliced Prosciutto de Parma, fontina cheese and melon which is a play on sweet and savory. The final one is a combination of pickled eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and Gorgonzola cheese, which has a slightly spicy kick from southern Italy. This one is special because I pickle the eggplant and jar the sun-dried tomatoes under oil to release all of their delicious flavor.
With just a few ingredients, these starters will kick start your flavor palate be the beginning of a wonderful Italian dinner.
1 large baguette, or rustic Italian bread, sliced to 1/2-inch thick
1/4 pound of Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced
1 package small cherry tomatoes
1 small cantaloupe melon
1 package of micro greens
8 oz. fontina cheese, thinly sliced
8 oz. soft gorgonzola cheese
10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
4 oz pickled eggplant
4 oz sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, cut in half
Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and place in a bowl.
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Add the finely chopped basil, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator.
Cut the cantaloupe in half and discard the seeds. Use a melon-baller to make as many balls as needed.
Wrap each ball with a strip of prosciutto, set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator.
Slice the fontina set on a plate cover and transfer to the refrigerator.
Chop the sun-dried tomatoes and pickled eggplant into very small pieces, crumble the gorgonzola cheese and mix all together. Set on a plate and transfer to the refrigerator.
Slice a baguette on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices. Grill, or bake in the oven until they are slightly crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub with a garlic clove that has been cut in half.
Remove all the ingredients from the refrigerator and assemble the bruschetta right before you serve them.