There are times when you wish to nibble at something chatpata but are determined not to stray from the virtuous path and sure about avoiding the deep-fried stuff. Well, bruschetta is here to help you kill several birds with one toasted piece of bread. This antipasti has carved a niche for itself as a starter in many trendy multi-cuisine restaurants and is making steady inroads as a canapé at cocktail parties.
One can do so much with bruschetta, topping it with cold cuts of meat, cheeses of various kinds, salsas, lentils like rajma and chickpeas and fruits. According to food historians, it was born in Italy when olive oil producers checked the quality of fresh-pressed stuff, soaking a small piece of bread in it. Others opine that it was a farmer who found this use for stale bread. The best part is that you require miniscule quantities of even the most expensive stuff to dazzle the guests with exotic creations. And it is guaranteed to beat those salted biscuits masquerading as canapés.
The simplest recipe is to rub slices of toasted bread with cloves of garlic and then drizzle these with olive oil and sprinkle fresh ground black peppercorns. If you have avocado at hand, you can spread its mash instead of butter. Even the thinnest slivers of parmesan can embellish the bruschetta. Otherwise, slices of pear, pineapple will do fine. Black and green olives stuffed with pimento, jalapeño chillies, sun-dried tomatoes, pickle — almost anything can be paired with the base of bread.
Long French bread and garlic breads are easily available these days. Slice the bread diagonally and toast these in batches.
A friend of ours substitutes bruschetta for papri/matthi to spice up her chaat parties. The trick is to have a variety of toppings, creating a rainbow platter. Some to singe the palate, others to soothe it.
- Toast the bread slices. Rub with garlic cloves and sprinkle some olive oil. Then, apply a thin layer of garlic butter and keep aside.
- Grate the cheese, or slice really thin. Stir-fry the mushrooms till moisture evaporates. Chop the olives and halve the grapes. Cut jalapeño in smaller strips. Keep at hand the chickpeas and beans.
- Now place different toppings or combos on different bases. Sprinkle ground peppercorn and add a drop of chilli sauce on some bruschetta.
- For sweet ones, eschew garlic and butter. Spread hung yoghurt, fruit & a trickle of honey.
- French or garlic bread (or any bread sliced in fingers) 1 loaf
- Garlic butter 3 tbsp
- Garlic cloves (crushed) 6
- Olive oil 3 tbsp
- Olives 1/4 cup
- Button mushrooms (wiped clean, sliced thin) 1/4 cup
- Chilli sauce 2 tsp
- Grapes 4-6
- Chickpeas (boiled, crushed lightly) 2 tbsp
- Rajma/canned beans (boiled, crushed lightly) 2 tbsp
- Jalapeno peppers 3-4 slices
- Black peppercorns (coarsely pounded) 1 tbsp
- Cheddar cheese (as required)
For sweet options
- Hung curd or yoghurt 1/4 cup
- Honey 1 tbsp
- Kiwi fruit (sliced thin) 1
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