A Bounty of Bruschetta

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Bread alone is enough for me, usually. But there are times when a seasonal spread or simple topping can turn a humble piece of toast into something so satisfying. Bruschetta can be at its best in all seasons, and these recipes showcase the bounty each one brings.

But before you can put anything on the bread, you must first toast it. Turn broiler on high and set rack 4 inches below flame. Cut any country style bread into ¾-inch slices and place on baking sheet. Slide baking sheet under broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, until bread is browned. Flip bread and repeat on other side. Lightly rub each slice with a garlic clove that has been peeled and cut in-half crosswise. Brush with olive oil. If you can’t be bothered or if it’s too hot to turn on the oven, just stick the sliced bread in the toaster and finish with the garlic and olive oil.

SPRING

Artichoke Hearts, Parmesan, and Pancetta

Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, rinsed and patted dry

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

Pepper

½ cup Pancetta, cut into small cubes

1 cup Parmesan cheese, ½ cup grated fine, ½ cup shaved into strips with vegetable peeler

Pour 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet, and set over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add pancetta and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Pulse artichoke hearts, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, mint, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and a big pinch of pepper in food processor until coarsely pureed, about 3 pulses. Scrape down bowl and pulse 3 more times. Add grated parmesan and pulse to combine, another 3 pulses.

Spread artichoke mixture evenly among toasts. Sprinkle on 1 tablespoon pancetta per toast, and top with shaved parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil to taste, and serve.

 

Mushrooms, Ricotta, and Herbs

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cups Portobello mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed, and sliced

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

½ tablespoon minced fresh thyme

½ tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 ½ cups good-quality crumbly ricotta cheese

Salt and pepper

Heat butter and oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Add mushrooms, thyme, and rosemary and cook until juices are released, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Stir mixture until herbs are evenly spread. Remove skillet from heat.

Spoon mushroom mixture evenly over toasts. Sprinkle each with 2 generous tablespoons of ricotta cheese, and serve.

 

SUMMER

Summer Squash, Candied Bacon, and Blue Cheese

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 slices bacon, cut into ½ -inch slices

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 medium summer squash or zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into matchsticks

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix the bacon and brown sugar until evenly coated. Transfer to baking sheet and cook until bacon is glazed and crisp, check after 10 minutes—the sugar burns easily. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Combine squash, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in medium bowl. Let stand 5 minutes, then fold in bacon, cheese, and basil.

Spoon mixture evenly over toasts, and serve.

 

Whipped Feta, Roasted Red Peppers, and Spicy Coppa

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

4 red bell peppers, roasted, skin removed, seeded, and cut into ½ -inch dice (or 4 roasted red peppers from a jar, patted dry)

12 thin slices spicy coppa, cut into ¼ -inch strips

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

2 cups feta cheese, crumbled

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Combine roasted red peppers, coppa, vinegar, sugar, garlic, pepper flakes, and salt to taste in medium bowl, set aside.

Process feta, oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of pepper in food processor until smooth, about 10 seconds—scraping down bowl once during processing.

Spread feta mixture evenly over toasts. Using fingers or fork, top pepper mixture over feta, drizzle with olive oil to taste, and serve.

FALL

Apples and Golden Raisins

Serves 4

4 Gala, or any desert apples, skin left on, cored, and cut into ½ -inch slices

½ of a lemon

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup golden raisins

Knifepoint of ground cinnamon

* Note:  After toasting bread, brush with melted butter. Omit olive oil and garlic.

Squeeze lemon juice into a medium bowl with apples. Toss to coat. In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, melt butter, stir in sugar, and let mixture come to a bubble, about 2 minutes. Transfer apples to skillet and cook until apples are soft the edges, about 5 minutes. Stir in raisins and cinnamon. Cook mixture until apples are evenly glazed in caramel and soft. Remove from heat.

Spoon apple mixture evenly over toasts, and serve. A scoop of vanilla ice cream on top would put these over the top.

 

Goat Cheese, Figs, and Prosciutto

Serves 4

Extra-virgin olive oil for serving

1 cup dried figs, stems removed and chopped coarse

¾ cups water

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, or any aged ham, cut into ½ -inch strips

Bring figs, water, and vinegar to boil in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is almost dry and figs have softened, about 20 minutes. Process fig mixture in food processor until uniform paste forms, scraping down bowl once during processing.

Spread goat cheese evenly over toasts. Top with fig mixture and spread over cheese. Top each slice with pieces of prosciutto, drizzle with olive oil to taste, and serve.

WINTER

Arugula, Red Onions, Sweet Coppa, and Rosemary-White Bean Spread

Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 garlic clove, crushed

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1.4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

¼ red onion, sliced thin

2 cups arugula, cut into ½ -inch strips

In food processor, process two-thirds of beans, 2 tablespoons oil, water, lemon juice, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Add remaining beans and rosemary; pulse until incorporated but not smooth, about 5 pulses.

Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper in medium bowl; add onion and toss.

Divide bean mixture evenly among toasts. Toss arugula and coppa with onion until coated, then top toasts with portion of onion, arugula, and coppa and serve.

 

Caramelized Onions, Blue Cheese, and Walnuts

Serves 4

Extra-virgin olive oil for serving

1 ½ teaspoons butter

1 ½ teaspoons vegetable or canola oil

1 pound onions, sliced ¼ -inch think, root to tip

½ teaspoon brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 cups mild blue cheese, crumbled

3 tablespoons milk

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Pepper

¼ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine

Heat butter and vegetable oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat; add onions, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and begin to release some moisture, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until onions are deeply browned and sticky, about 35 minutes.

Using a fork, mash blue cheese and milk together in medium bowl until smooth, spreadable consistency is formed. Stir in cayenne, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and walnuts. Divide blue cheese mixture evenly among toasts. Top with onions and spread into even layer over cheese. Sprinkle with black pepper, drizzle with olive oil to taste, and serve.

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