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Simple, yet elegant, "bruschetta" (pronounced brew-skeh-tah) serves the Italian cook as an ideal canvas on which to paint the flavors of the seasons. As an antipasto (appetizer), bruschette seems to be an endless way to serve cured meats, local cheeses and seasonal vegetables. At the base of every bruschetta is a fairly thick slice of bread ideally grilled over a wood fire to the point of golden brown: Italian toast. Once toasted the bread gets a healthy brushing of Olive Oil and often a rub of fresh garlic from one clove. From this base one can create a plethora of dishes that highlight a certain food, flavor or idea of the chef. Here I offer some fairly simple recipes that focus on the robust and unique flavor of Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Included are some traditional Italian recipes and some untraditional ones which I hope you'll find easy to prepare to enjoy everyday or for a special celebration
Bruschetta Classica or Fettunta
This recipe will serve as the base for all the following bruschetta recipes.
Ingredients: 4 Slices crusty bread (roughly one-half inch thick), 1 Clove of garlic (peeled), 4 T. Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Over a wood-fired grill, in a broiler, or in a toaster, toast the slices of bread until a deep golden color forms on one side and repeat for the other side. While the bread is still warm, drizzle a generous amount of oil, roughly one tablespoon, on the bread. With the garlic clove, firmly press down and rub the bread to spread the oil on one side of the bread. This action of rubbing the garlic should grate some of the clove into the bread. Serve as is or use this recipe as the starter for all the following recipes.
Caprese (tomato and Mozzarella)
Ingredients: 4 Slices of "Bruschetta classica", 4 Medium vine-ripened tomatoes, 2-4 Rounds of fresh mozzarella cheese (depends on size of the round), 4 T. Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 8-12 Fresh leaves of Basil, Red Pepper flake, Salt.
Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices along the vertical axis. Slice the mozzarella in the same thickness and set aside. Grill the bread and prepare the slices with the oil and garlic rub described in the Bruschetta Classica recipe. On the bread, place in alternating overlapping layers the tomatoes and mozzarella. Drizzle the slices with Pornanino olive oil. Roughly tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the toast adding a small amount of salt and pepper flake as desired.
Bruschetta agli Champignon (with mushrooms)
Ingredients: 4 Slices of "Bruschetta classica", 12 Medium sized mushrooms, 2 Cloves of Garlic chopped finely, 4-6 T. Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Parsley (finely chopped), Red Pepper flake, Salt.
Clean the mushrooms either with a stiff brush or a paper towel to remove the dirt. If desired, remove the skin from the cap and trim the stem. Slice the mushrooms into 1/8 inch slices along the vertical axis. In a large pan over medium heat, add two or three T. of oil to the pan and then the mushrooms. Add the garlic, salt and pepper flakes and cook for five minutes until they brown slightly. Make sure not to burn the garlic. Remove from heat and add the chopped parsley. Arrange the mushroom compote on top of the bruschetta and garnish with generous drizzles of oil.
Bruschetta alle Melanzane (Eggplant)
Ingredients: 4 Slices of "Bruschetta classica", 1-2 Medium-large eggplants, 4 Cloves garlic (peeled), 4-6 T. Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 T. Fine balsamic Vinegar, Red pepper flake, Salt.
Wash the eggplant and trim the green stem off on top and the bottom portion if necessary. Slice the eggplant on the horizontal axis as thinly as possible, trying to create 1/8 inch thick slices. In a heavy skillet, or a stove top grill or over a wood-fired grill, toast the eggplant slices until they begin to grill, turn brown but not too charred. Each piece should become soft and very pliable. In a large dish or bowl, add the cooked eggplant and add four tablespoons of oil, and the 2 teaspoons of vinegar. Add salt and pepper flake to taste. Prepare the slices of Bruschetta Classica as the eggplant marinate. After 5 minutes of marinating, arrange the eggplant on the bread and garnish with salt, pepper flake and oil if needed.
Bruschetta alle Zucchine (Zucchini)
Ingredients: 4 Slices of "Bruschetta classica", 4-5 Zucchini, of medium size, 4 Cloves garlic (peeled), 4-6 T. Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 T. Fine balsamic Vinegar, Red pepper flake, Salt.
Wash the zucchini and trim off the top and the bottom portion. Slice the zucchini on the horizontal axis as thinly as possible, trying to create 1/8 inch thick slices. In a heavy skillet, or a stove top grill or over a wood-fired grill, toast the zucchini slices until they begin to grill, turn brown but not too charred. Each piece should become soft and very pliable. In a large dish or bowl, add the cooked zucchiniand add four tablespoons of oil, and the 2 teaspoons of vinegar. Add salt and pepper flake to taste. While the zucchini marinate, prepare the Bruschetta Classica slices. After 5 minutes of marinating, arrange the zucchini on the bread and garnish with salt, pepper flake and oil if needed.
Bruschetta al Pomodoro (Tomato and Basil)
Ingredients: 8 slices of "Bruschetta classica", 4 Medium sized (top quality) tomatoes, 4-6 T Fresh Basil (shredded by hand), 4 T. Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper.
Wash and seed the tomatoes. Chop the tomato flesh into a 1/2 inch dice. In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, oil, salt and pepper. Prepare your bruschetta bread, as described in the "Bruschetta classica" recipe. Spoon the tomato mixture atop the warm bread and serve with a healthy amount of the shredded basil on top. Drizzle with the remaining liquid of the tomato marinade.
Bruschetta with Olive Tapenade
Ingredients: 8-10 Slices of "Bruschetta classica", 2 Cups Black cured olives or Kalamata Olives with seeds, 1 Lemon and its zest, 1 Orange, zested, 4 whole black pepper corns, 1 Pepper (red or yellow), 4-8 T Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper.
Pit the olives and place in a blender. Add to the olives 2 T of olive oil, the pepper corns a few drops of lemon the zest of half the orange and half the lemon. Blend at high speed, pulsing as necessary to achieve a fine and consistent paste. Wash and seed the pepper. Slice into very thin slices and set aside. Prepare the Bruschetta Classica. Add the olive paste atop the bread and artfully arrange the pepper slices on top of the tapenade. Drizzle some oil on top of each slice and serve.
Roasted Red Peppers and Pecorino
Ingredients : 8 Slices "Bruschetta classica", 4 Red Peppers, 4-8 T Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 4 oz. Pecorino Toscano or Romano, Salt, Pepper.
Wash the peppers. In a very hot oven set on broil, or over a stovetop grill or on a wood-fired grill, roast the peppers until the skins begin to blister and the skin chars. Rotate the peppers so that each side gets adequately grilled or broiled. Do not worry if they seem burnt, as the task here is to cook all the flesh of the pepper. Once fully charred, place the peppers in a ceramic or metal bowl and seal it tightly with plastic wrap. Steam should form on the plastic wrap and this will ensure that the skins will be easy to remove. Once cooled for at least 25 minutes, remove the peppers from the bowl. Using your hands, peel off the skin (if steamed right, the skins should come off easily). Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Do not worry about keeping the liquid inside the peppers but beware that it may still be warm. Slice the peppers into 1 inch strips. Prepare the Bruschetta Classica. Arrange in one layer of overlapping edges, the peppers. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and dried oregano to taste. Shave a moderate amount of Pecorino on top of the peppers and serve.
Bruschetta ai Carciofi (Artichoke)
Ingredients: 8 Slice "Bruschetta classica", 4 Artichokes (fresh or 1 large can of artichoke hearts), 2 T Parsley (minced), 1 Clove garlic (smashed), 8 T Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 Clove of Garlic (unpeeled), 1 1/2 tsp Balsamic vinegar, 1 Lemon, 1 tsp Dried Oregano, Salt, Pepper.
If using fresh artichokes, clean cut them into half-inch slices as you would with apple slices. Trim the outer part of the stem and slice thinly. In a large pan add 3-4 T of Pornanino olive oil and heat over a medium flame. Add the garlic clove and the artichoke slices. Add a pinch of salt Cook until the pieces become tender and slightly browned. Remove from heat and set the garlic clove aside. Place the Artichokes, the garlic, vinegar, a few drops of lemon and salt and pepper to taste in a blender and blend. While mixing, slowly pour the oil into the blender until a nice purée is formed. Stir in by hand the parsley. Prepare the bread as described in the Bruschetta Classica recipe. Spread a generous amount of the artichoke mixture on each slice and drizzle with fresh oil and a quick grind of black pepper.
Bruschetta alle Fave (Fava Bean Tapenade)
Ingredients: 6 Slices "Bruschetta classica", 1 1/4 pounds unshelled Fava beans, 2 T Pecorino Toscana cheese (grated), 1/2 tsp. Garlic (smashed and finely diced), 1/3 cup Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 1/2 T fresh squeezed lemon juicel, 6 Mint leaves (fresh), Black pepper (ground fresh).
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Remove the beans from the shells and blanch in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Place the beans into a ice bath (in a bowl add water and ice). Using a small paring knife, peel away the pale skin of each bean. You should get a yield of about 1 1/2 cups of shelled, peeled beans. Place the beans, cheese, oil, lemon juice, and pepper into a food processor and blend until it achieves a creamy consistency. Finely chop the mint and stir it into the mixture. Prepare your Bruschetta Classica. Spread the bean tapenade generously on each slice and shave fresh Pecorino and drizzle some Pornanino Olive Oil on top before serving.
Bruschetta ai Cannellini (Tuscan White Bean Tapenade)
Ingredients: 8 Slices "Bruschetta classica", 1 1/2 cups White Beans (either freshly cooked in water, sage, salt and pepper, or a can of pre-cooked), 1 Clove garlic, smashed and diced finely, 1 1/2 T Fresh Lemon juice, 3 oz. Pancetta (optional), 6-8 T Pornanino Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 4 Fresh Sage leaves, 1 T finely chopped Parsley, 4 T Parmigiano Reggiano (grated), Salt, Pepper.
Cut the pancetta into small cubes, about 1/4 inch in size. In a skillet over moderate heat, add the pancetta. Once it begins to brown, add the garlic and the fresh sage leaves. Be careful not to burn either the garlic or the sage. In a blender add the beans, the pancetta-garlic-sage mixture, the Pornanino Olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until it forms a consistent paste. Stir in the cheese and the parsley. Prepare the Bruschetta Classica. Spread the bean tapenade on each slice and drizzle a generous amount of oil on top before serving.