Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Recipe: Easy-Peasy Bruschetta
How's your week going? I said last Friday that I was going to have a quiet weekend - well that was a complete fail! It was a great fail though as it meant lots of nights out with my friends and sleeping on my friend Kim's couch for two nights after some partying. I love getting home to Cork and catching up with friends, although sometimes it can be hard to see everyone! My sister has recently moved back to Cork for the summer (she's studying fashion design in Edinburgh) and it was great to see her too. My other sister has just moved to London so I must go over and visit her soon. It's so weird now that we're all (I have a brother too) in our twenties and moving on and doing our own things - thankfully we don't fight like we did when we were kids, we all get on so well now (usually, ha!).
Do you like Italian food? I love it - even though I've never been to Italy! I really want to go there soooo bad, it's not even funny. Maybe one day....
This recipe is for an easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy bruschetta - you don't have to even cook anything (well, except toasting some bread)! It's all about fresh food and fresh flavours and can be made in a cinch. I really hope you enjoy it - all feedback welcome as always.
What do you have planned for this week?
Cherry Tomato & Basil Bruschetta
By Aoife Barry
Italy is a country that I have long wanted to visit - mainly, I’ll admit, because of the food. Any country that considers pizza, pasta and wine dietary staples is a country that I want to visit, I’ll tell you that much.
While I save my pennies and dream of a sun-soaked trip to Rome, I take my own little mini-holidays to Italy through the food that entices me to visit there. Italian food is an example of what happens when you combine fresh ingredients with a little seasoning and herbs – there are explosively delicious results.
Bruschetta (pronounced brus-ketta) is so simple to make, but tastes utterly divine. Here is my twist on it, using cherry tomatoes mixed with garlic and basil. To bring this dish, which works as a light meal or a starter, to the next level, I added rocket leaves and pine nuts, drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction. At home, I served this bruschetta on a gluten-free ciabatta roll, which I sliced into three and then toasted. You can of course replace this with crusty white bread or ciabatta.
I am a huge fan of garlic, not least because of its health benefits. It is a heart-healthy ingredient that can help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and has anti-fungal properties. Basil, meanwhile, is deliciously fragrant herb, while fresh tomatoes are juicy and great for your health – as is extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil comes in a number of different varieties, but unrefined extra virgin olive oil is wonderful when used raw, on salads or with fresh vegetables.
Balsamic reduction is a super way of turning your meal from a humdrum dish into a gourmet delight. It is ridiculously simple to make and can be bottled and kept in the fridge, where it will keep for weeks and weeks. Drizzle it over salads, fresh vegetables or even bread, and you’ll be in food heaven. Use it when cooking for friends or family and they’ll be amazed at your cooking prowess – little will they know that it took minutes to make!
Cherry Tomato and Basil Bruschetta Ingredients
450g cherry tomatoes (or equivalent in large tomatoes), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
50g basil leaves, finely chopped
1 pinch of salt
1 loaf of ciabatta bread or gluten-free equivalent, sliced
1 large bunch of rocket leaves
50g pine nuts
60g Balsamic vinegar
Combine your chopped tomatoes, basil, and minced garlic in a non-plastic bowl. Add your olive oil and mix. Leave to stand, unrefrigerated, while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
Wash and chop the rocket leaves.
Heat a cast-iron pan or wok, and add the pine nuts, without oil. Gently stir them over the heat, until they become fragrant and lightly browned. These can burn easily so watch them closely. Once toasted, add to the rocket leaves and toss together.
Prepare the balsamic reduction – add the balsamic vinegar to a pot and bring to a simmer. Whisk and turn down the heat, whisking occasionally until the vinegar has reduced by a half or ¾.
It should taste sweet and rich.
Toast your bread. When done, spoon the bruschetta mix over each slice. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the rocket leaves and serve the salad and bruschetta together.
Close your eyes and pretend you’re eating it in the Italian sun.